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[P]
U.S. House caves in to email hoax

By HiRes in News
Thu May 18, 2000 at 12:25:18 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

On Tuesday the U.S. House of Representatives voted to ban the FCC "from extending certain telephone access charges to the Internet". As the article implies, this action was precipitated by endless complaints from constituents who had received the old "long distance charges for 'net access" FUD email hoax and believed it.


We've probably all seen isolated instances of chain letters, urban legends, and hoaxes appearing on the evening news as the real thing, but usually an apology or correction follows upon further review.

But now we have Congress attempting to enact actual laws to appease lazy wanna-be activists who don't know enough to check their sources or research something on their own.

Is this as unsettling to others as it is to me? This seems like an awful precedent, although where it could lead is not exactly clear. It's also doubtful that enacting such a law would make the problem go away anyway, since email hoaxes are usually oblivious to the facts.

I'd love to hear what everyone else thinks.

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U.S. House caves in to email hoax | 25 comments (25 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
This was fascinating. I saw an arti... (3.00 / 1) (#1)
by rusty on Wed May 17, 2000 at 04:42:00 PM EST

rusty voted 1 on this story.

This was fascinating. I saw an article on this in the Washington Post. It's amazinbg that we can get legislation in response to legislation that never existed in the first place.

____
Not the real rusty

If only to see what other sillyness... (none / 0) (#9)
by Rasputin on Wed May 17, 2000 at 04:44:34 PM EST

Rasputin voted 1 on this story.

If only to see what other sillyness internet legends have spawned that people here have heard about.
Even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat.

*yawn* www.urbanlegends.com, people... (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by warpeightbot on Wed May 17, 2000 at 05:21:56 PM EST

warpeightbot voted 0 on this story.

*yawn* www.urbanlegends.com, people, jeez. not that I'd accuse most congressdroids of being that smart....

There is a website somewhere (I've ... (3.00 / 1) (#2)
by Emacs on Wed May 17, 2000 at 05:23:04 PM EST

Emacs voted 1 on this story.

There is a website somewhere (I've lost it) that will atomatically generate a hoax email for you. They are harmless of course and it's actually pretty funny. I used to send them to my friends (with a spoofed return adr of course) all the time. You would pick the type of email you wanted to send, last wish of a dieing child, stop the governmet from passing legislation, or don't open emails with the phrase blah blah. Then you would fill out a form to personalize it, or to make it as outrageous as possible. I have a hard time beliveing anybody could take those seriuosly though.

Re: There is a website somewhere (I've ... (none / 0) (#25)
by Guppy on Thu May 25, 2000 at 02:50:13 PM EST

"There is a website somewhere (I've lost it) that will atomatically generate a hoax email for you."

I believe you are referring to the Urban Legend Machine.



[ Parent ]
Too location specific, not actually... (none / 0) (#11)
by _cbj on Wed May 17, 2000 at 05:56:59 PM EST

_cbj voted -1 on this story.

Too location specific, not actually technology focused.

Meh. Doesn't seem like too bad a pr... (2.00 / 1) (#6)
by Field Marshall Stack on Wed May 17, 2000 at 07:51:34 PM EST

Field Marshall Stack voted 1 on this story.

Meh. Doesn't seem like too bad a precedent, actually. Not to sound like a raving libertarian, any time spent passing a harmless law is time not spent passing something...otherwise.
--
Ben Allen, hiway@speakeasy.org
"Nobody ever lends money to a man with a sense of humor"
-Peter Tork

Re: Meh. Doesn't seem like too bad a pr... (none / 0) (#20)
by TheDude on Thu May 18, 2000 at 03:32:57 PM EST

Gotta agree with that. Seems to me that it's better for Congress to pass a law against future passing of a stupid law than for then to pass a stupid law. Gee, now with my incomprehensibility, I sound like a Congressman. Anyways, at least we know that someone in the future won't be able to make a law letting the FCC charge modem users. At least without repealing this law first.
--
TheDude of Smokedot
Drug Info, Rights, Laws, and Discussion
Visit #smokedot on irc.smokedot.org

[ Parent ]
Two things of note with this bill: ... (5.00 / 2) (#4)
by analog on Wed May 17, 2000 at 07:52:06 PM EST

analog voted 1 on this story.

Two things of note with this bill:

  • It doesn't ban all internet charges; specifically, there is language in the bill that expressly allows fees to be imposed on Internet telephony. So while you may not be taxed on your access, they're leaving the door wide open (even pushing it a little wider) to charge you for usage.
  • It is a stellar example of backhanded politics. A lot of noise is being made about how Fred Upton (the author) is protecting consumers with this bill, when in fact it does absolutely nothing along those lines; the one thing it does prevent nobody is currently planning on doing. However, it installs a nice back door for the big phone companies to use when they think 'net telephony is costing them too much; that they have the right to have artificial fees imposed in order to protect their positions will have been passed into law.
A lot of people have been asking why this bill is necessary. Pardon me for being cynical, but I think it's fairly obvious. It allows the representative to tell his constituents he is looking out for their interests, while at the same time doing exactly the opposite, and tossing a bone to the moneyed players that can (and will) contribute generously to his campaign.

Re: Two things of note with this bill:... (none / 0) (#18)
by jovlinger on Thu May 18, 2000 at 12:18:17 PM EST

Any idea how they are going to go about distinguishing internet telephony from normal use?

Actually, I guess all they have to do is to charge a premium for timely packet delivery. You could see them implementing gigantic buffers to purposefully skew package arrival rates so much that the ammount of local buffering needed would induce an unacceptable lag in the convseration (say most people would tolerate a secondish).

[ Parent ]

Re: Two things of note with this bill:... (none / 0) (#19)
by analog on Thu May 18, 2000 at 01:37:53 PM EST

Any idea how they are going to go about distinguishing internet telephony from normal use?

No clue. Frankly, I'm not at all sure that the congresscritters involved are aware that it's not possible. Having said that, though, I think it's being aimed in a different direction anyway. There are many companies popping up who offer 'phone service' over the 'net; I would imagine that they are thinking of imposing special fees/taxes on them, and possibly on the software used (perhaps along the lines of the 'piracy tax' on DATs and audio CD-Rs).

A lot of this is knee jerk reaction type stuff. I don't think Internet telephony is going to put AT&T out of business any time soon, although in the long term there is certainly a possibility of a very large bite being taken out of traditional long distance services.

The question that must be asked is whether or not it's okay to install artificial barriers to protect an industry that is rendered obsolete by technology. The current answer appears to be yes, if there are companies making a lot of money in said industry. It seems pretty clear to me that congress is far more interested in protecting a company's profits than they are in advancing technology, even when this behavior is harmful to everyone but the company.

If I may wax cynical again, there is a larger picture here. Right now, in a congressional election, he who spends the most money wins. There is occasionally a notable exception to this rule, but in the last elections the big spenders won ~90% of the time. Given this, when a choice comes down to hurting big contributors or constituents, the people will lose every time.

[ Parent ]

Re: Two things of note with this bill:... (none / 0) (#21)
by shepd on Thu May 18, 2000 at 06:12:03 PM EST

>I don't think Internet telephony is going to put AT&T out of business any time soon

Actually, since most "telephone" companies are into so much more than just POTS (leased lines, ABM communications, television transmission, etc... etc...) it seems a near technical impossibility that large companies like AT&T or Sprint, or etc will ever go out of business in our lifetimes. They are like IBM, you can hit them "where it hurts", and they just shift business plans. :-)

[ Parent ]
Re: Two things of note with this bill:... (none / 0) (#22)
by shepd on Thu May 18, 2000 at 06:15:26 PM EST

>there is language in the bill that expressly allows fees to be imposed on Internet telephony.

What will be next, special fees on email to ensure that the USPS doesn't get hurt? :-)

Ohoh, I'd better be careful. I wouldn't want to start any rumours up (don't forget to send in your postcard to that sick kid in the US!).

[ Parent ]
Member of congress are human too, a... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by flamingcow on Wed May 17, 2000 at 08:12:47 PM EST

flamingcow voted 1 on this story.

Member of congress are human too, and seem to not be (as they should) of a higher average intelligence. They are a cross-section of the population, and they get into just the same muddles are all other non-technophytes out there.

Re: Member of congress are human too, a... (none / 0) (#17)
by jovlinger on Thu May 18, 2000 at 12:12:39 PM EST

I dunno. If anyone is going to make decisions that affect my life, I'd rather have someone more intelligent than myself do it. How does the quote go? "I'll take evil over foolishness, as evil rests." Even if they don't have my best interests at heart, at least they can be expected to make logical decisions.

[ Parent ]
I don't like the bill and what it c... (2.33 / 3) (#8)
by bgp4 on Wed May 17, 2000 at 09:02:24 PM EST

bgp4 voted -1 on this story.

I don't like the bill and what it could do for the future of the net, but I think you've got it all wrong... Maybe you're trying to start an urban legend of your own.
May all your salads be eaten out of black hats

Re: I don't like the bill and what it c... (none / 0) (#15)
by HiRes on Thu May 18, 2000 at 01:44:35 AM EST

I'm not sure what you mean by "got it all wrong"... could you explain a little further? I don't mean that in a defensive way, I'm genuinely curious.
--
wcb
wait! before you rate, read.
[ Parent ]

Re: I don't like the bill and what it c... (none / 0) (#24)
by Inoshiro on Thu May 18, 2000 at 07:48:27 PM EST

http://www.urbanlegends.com/classic/modem_tax.html

Yes it is an urban legend, no the author of this is not trying to start another urban legend.



--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
The Pi = 3 law almost passed in my ... (none / 0) (#12)
by h2odragon on Wed May 17, 2000 at 09:32:24 PM EST

h2odragon voted 1 on this story.

The Pi = 3 law almost passed in my home state legislature...

this is hysterical.... another sign... (none / 0) (#10)
by thelaw on Wed May 17, 2000 at 09:51:34 PM EST

thelaw voted 1 on this story.

this is hysterical.... another sign that i need to be elected. :) jon

Every other story I've seen says th... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
by Perpetual Newbie on Wed May 17, 2000 at 10:43:03 PM EST

Perpetual Newbie voted 0 on this story.

Every other story I've seen says the ban is for six years. I think it's a Good Thing, as I don't want the government to have the power to tax the Internet anytime in the near future.

This is a scary quote: ``This bill only does part of it,'' said Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass. ``We're going to protect the phone companies so they can make more profits.'' Well, we know who this guy considers his constituents to be.

This isn't about the ban on taxation (4.50 / 2) (#16)
by PresJPolk on Thu May 18, 2000 at 04:27:04 AM EST

This bill isn't the internet tax moratorium.

This bill prevents modem calls to a local ISP from being billed to customers as long distance calls.

It all stems from a confusing recarding a FCC debate, where they thought about adjusting the inter-carrier reimbursement scheme. Big phone companies wanted to squeeze more money out of little competitiors, so they pressed the FCC to treat ISP calls like long distance, so that the little competitors (with whom ISPs were signing, to get lower rates) would have to pay the big phone companies more money.

Some half-illiterate read that, and thought it meant that people would start having to pay long distance rates, because the internet is long distance, or something like that.

[ Parent ]
I'm not a Wanna Be Activist, but I ... (none / 0) (#14)
by Strongtium90 on Wed May 17, 2000 at 11:07:51 PM EST

Strongtium90 voted 1 on this story.

I'm not a Wanna Be Activist, but I am lazy. Anyway, was this already banned or what? I wouldn't want the FFC applying any kind of charge to internet access!

Re: I'm not a Wanna Be Activist, but I ... (none / 0) (#23)
by Inoshiro on Thu May 18, 2000 at 07:14:55 PM EST

Having the FCC apply a charge to the internet is like having a government regulate what kind of sex positions and sexual acts you may commit.

It's impossible to enforce, impossible to get voted in (unless you live with a lot of those evil puritans), and easy to get rid of. The fact is, this will never happen. Just like the fact that there was no Neman Marcus cookie, etc. Go look a Urbanlegends.com (from the Alt.Folklore.Urban hiearchy), Urbanmyths.com, or Snopes.com (an outgrowth of the San Fernando Folklore Society).

Remember: stop and think before believing anything. If it sounds too [good, bad, gross] to be true, it is. And to verify, you just have to look around :-)



--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
This is just plain old hilarious!... (none / 0) (#5)
by Pseudonymous Coward on Wed May 17, 2000 at 11:29:45 PM EST

Pseudonymous Coward voted 1 on this story.

This is just plain old hilarious!

U.S. House caves in to email hoax | 25 comments (25 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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