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These reports were written by a team of local volunteers: Angela Merino, Assina Bounis, Celia Boyer, Eric Bianchi, Irčne Butor, Julian Albert Kilker and Melisa Makzume. The reports summarise information for people not able to attend the sessions. Their comprehensiveness and accuracy are not guaranteed. For more information, please contact the presenters directly. Their e-mail addresses are available at

Track 2: Social, Legal, and Regulatory Policies

Session: Internet - Communication - Broadcasting

By Julian Albert Kilker

This session featured three presentations assessing past and present technology regulation with regard to its influence on the Internet.

Robert Cannon < > began by describing U.S. national policy designed to provide universal access to the Internet in U.S. schools and libraries. While acknowledging that the intent of the policy is good, he strongly criticized its implementation. In particular, he argued that the criteria for awarding funding were flawed: there is confusion over exactly what is covered in the FCC's definitions and the funding is not focused well enough on needy areas. In addition, the funding is technologically biased (it favors telephone connections over alternatives). This is due in part to the telephone companies (and education lobbies) having had too much influence over the policy's development. Fundamentally, Robert argued these problems suggest that governance lacking all interests leads to serious mistakes, and a cumbersome process does not encourage the participation of all parties.

Chung-Chuan Yang described the potential influence of Internet broadcasting (cybercasting) on Internet regulation in Taiwan. Taiwan has experienced dramatic Internet traffic growth, and presently has high Internet penetration. Internet broadcasting starting in late 1996, first by radio stations and alternative groups, and then by broadcasting television stations. By March 1998, there were over 29 Internet broadcasting stations. There is currently no regulation of Internet broadcasters, which allows new "broadcasters" - those not already broadcasting over the airwaves - to operate without licenses. Chung-Chuan reported that a more market-driven regulatory mechanism will be introduced in Taiwan, and registration fees will be charged. It is not clear how the scarcity rationale used for regulating broadcasting over the airwaves can or will be applied to Internet broadcasting in Taiwan, however.

Eszter Hargittai examined government intervention in the early days of radio broadcasting. Examining the history of radio regulation is helpful because there are many parallels with current Internet, she argued, and that specific historic events in radio regulation suggest how the Internet may be regulated. For example, the regulation enacted shortly after the Titanic disaster changed how radio frequencies were allocated, and how radio was used for emergencies (shipboard radio operators did not have standard emergency frequencies and did not have standard monitoring hours). Eszter argued that a similar disaster might occur on the Internet, prompting regulatory responses.



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