I had dinner with Susan Crawford this week (btw: she says hi to all you XNS guys 🙂 We talked about the lesser talked about Supreme Court Decision this week BrandX. Basically the FCC can now impose “social policies” which can be very onerous and costly. They could effectively kill VoIP services. It also seems that it has implications for our work building an identity meta-system on the net. If it classified as an information service? Any lawyers in the crowd who want to help us identity folk figure this out?
In BrandX, Justice Thomas gets very confused about the internet and ends up essentially announcing that everything a user does online is an “information service” being offered by the access provider. DNS, email (even if some other provider is making it available), applications, you name it — they’re all included in this package. And the FCC can make rules about these information services under its broad “ancillary jurisdiction.”
This is very very big. This means that even though information services like IM and email don’t have to pay tariffs or interconnect with others, they may (potentially) have to pay into the universal service fund, be subject to CALEA, provide enhanced 911 services, provide access to the disabled, and be subject to general consumer protection rules — all the subjects of the FCC’s IP-enabled services NPRM. I’ve blogged about this a good deal, and now it’s coming true: the FCC is now squarely in charge of all internet-protocol enabled services.