On this Day 10 Years Ago

Lawrence Lessig on today’s history lesson:

On February 8, 1996, Congress enacted the 1996 Telecom Act, which included the Communications Decency Act. After the President signed both laws, John Perry Barlow, at Davos, issued his “Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace.â€?

The Supreme Court struck the core of the CDA within 16 months. The Telecom Act is still being litigated, and Congress is now talking about trashing it.

But John Perry’s Declaration is still a great read.

And Mr. Lessig is right. John Perry Barlow’s Declaration is still a good read. And, in my opinion, the 1996 Telecom Actcompletely failed what it was trying to accomplish. Ten years later, and we are seeing the re-forming of Ma Bell (Look at SBC – purchased two other regional phone companies in the last 5 years (Pacific Bell & Ameritech) and last year’s purchase of what was left of AT&T), these same phone companies complaining about web services like Google running over “thier pipes” and content providers should pay for the privilege (isn’t that why individual users pay a monthly fee for broadband?), and compared to the rest of the world, the U.S. has one of the worst broadband availability, and some of the highest prices.

It’s too bad too, because I belive the 1996 Telecom Act meant to do good things, and they just never happened.

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