Lookin at the Text Message Scam

WASHINGTON (AP) — A key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee is asking the nation’s top four wireless carriers to justify the “sharply rising rates” they charge people to send and receive text messages.

In letters to top executives at Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile, Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl said Tuesday that he is concerned that rising text messaging rates reflect decreasing competition in the wireless business.

Kohl chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. His inquiry comes as European Commission regulators are threatening to impose a cap on roaming fees for text messages sent by Europeans traveling outside of their home nations, in an effort to force prices down by as much as 70 percent.

Kohl said he was concerned that consumers are paying more than 20 cents per message, up from 10 cents in 2005. This increase, he said, “does not appear to be justified by rising costs in delivering text messages,” which are small data files that are inexpensive for carriers to transmit.

The Associated Press: Senator examining rising text messaging rates.

Text messages are less than “inexpensive”.  I can’t imagime they take up much real bandwidth, being packet-driven and tiny.  The depth of the text message scam becomes clear when you wonder why phone calls on nights and weekends are free because of excess bandwidth…but text messages always cost the same.

It does not make sense.

What text messages really represent is what happens when a few guys (say, a foursome on a golf course) all simultaneously wonder about that age-old market-driven rhetorical question….”If only I had a dime every time someone…”

In this case the answer is “…when someone sends OR RECEIVES a text message.” (the second biggest part of the scam)

Hopefully we’ll see something come of this, but since the few national carriers all get along quite well, I don’t see the market resolving this without a little outside pressure.

Permission to Spy Granted by U.S. House

UPDATE 3-US House votes to provide protection to phone firms | Markets | Markets News | Reuters

WASHINGTON, June 20 Reuters – The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday that could shield phone companies from billions of dollars in lawsuits for their participation in the warrantless surveillance program begun by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The White House-backed, compromise measure — which triggered a firestorm of opposition from civil liberties groups — would also overhaul U.S. spy powers and replace a temporary surveillance law that expired in February.

So this is how it works in the fascist countries…the governmnet works through private companies to violate the law.  Then the government protects those companies from prosecution and those companies spare the government from having to break its own laws.

The Senate is expected to give the bill final approval next week with the help of the two major presidential contenders — Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama — clearing the way for Bush to sign it into law.

Ahh, the joys of bi-partisanship.  Calling this bill something needed for national security is retarded.  We have a system in place, where you go and get a warrant, to spy on people.  To do so without warrants is wrong.  Even for private companies.  There should be a price paid for violating the law.  Instead, the power structure just changes the law to protect the companies from the people.  This is fascism.

“It will help our intelligence professionals learn our enemies’ plans for new attacks,” Bush said just hours before the House approved the bill, 293-129. “It ensures that those companies whose assistance is necessary to protect the country will themselves be protected from liability.”

And there you have the argument for.   The argument against would be…1) that warrant thing mentioned in the Constitution, that 200+year tradition against spying on citizens, and the basic concepts of freedom and liberty enshrined in our culture.

Mere trifles, really.

And so the bullshit of government/business deals is illustrated clearly…

The bill would not provide the retroactive immunity that Bush had demanded for telecommunication companies that took part in the warrantless spying program he started.

Instead, U.S. district courts would be able to dismiss a suit if there were written certification that the White House asked a company to participate and assured it the program was legal.

And so Bush Co. gives the Telecoms a get out of jail free card, literally, and gross violations of liberty, privacy and freedom go unpunished.

Critics charge Bush, in authorizing his spy program, violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires the government to get approval from a secret court to conduct electronic surveillance on foreign targets in the United States.

The president maintains he acted legally, saying he had the wartime power to authorize the program. But he put it under FISA jurisdiction in January 2007. Terms remain secret.

That’s right.  Because Saddam Hussein bombed the WTC with WMD Bush gets to read your mail.  It all makes perfect sense…if you have a fascist government.

The Joys of Re-Selling Your Digital Rights

PC World – Business Center: Comcast Sets its Sights on Peer to Peer Apps

Comcast, one of the leading providers of broadband cable Internet access in the U.S, has your rights at heart. Of course, exactly what rights you have remains to be seen. But Comcast plans to let you know, just as soon as it’s decided what they are.
That was the gist of Comcast and Pando Networks’ joint announcement yesterday, calling for a “P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.” But skeptics worry that such a plan is likely to be light on the rights, heavy on the responsibilities

This is the next step for the telecom companies.  In order to increase profit margins, the telephone companies are now going to start taking away what you thought were your digital rights and then re-sell them to you at a discount.  Yea, sure, the discount is still going to be more than you are paying for now but at least you’ll be getting a “discount”!

The funny part is that they are going to sell this whole bait-and-switch routine as if they are doing you a favor.  The really funny part is their argument that the government protecting the rights of people to use bandwidth for their speech how they see fit is now called “government interference”, while the concept of telecoms themselves deciding which packets get delivered by the dumptrucks is actually a service people want.

Because we all know that you should give AT&T a call before uploading that video of Cheney rimming Rumsfeld.  And we all know that they never censor anything….

The controversy surrounding AT&T’s alleged censorship of a Pearl Jam Lollapalooza show that AT&T webcast as part of its Blue Room series continues, despite AT&T’s Statement that Eddie Vedder’s anti-Bush lyrics were excised from the show footage by a third-party webcasting service provider.

SavetheInternet agrees with Pearl Jam that the situation could indicate how AT&T might act if net neutrality laws are not passed, and posted the footage on YouTube:

[note the part you can’t hear in the first version]

 Update: here’s the unedited version, as shot by a fan:

(update via futureofmusiccoalition)

 [source of censored songs]