The Washington Post has been reporting a number of stories attempting to show that network operators are telling Wall Street and Washington two entirely different stories, but the statements made tell a different story.
ITIF Files Amicus Brief in Google v. Joffe Supreme Court Petition
ITIF has filed an amicus brief supporting Google's petition to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Google Inc. v. Joffe et al case. In that case, Google is accused of illegally intercepting transmissions from open WiFi networks during its Street View project. ITIF believes that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals needlessly treats modern digital communications different from old analog communications, creating confusion and uncertainty for innovators and IT security professionals and warranting review by the Supreme Court.
The Wiretap Act generally allows anyone to listen to radio communications that are not secured to be made private. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that WiFi transmissions are not considered "radio communications."
ITIF contends that the Ninth Circuit was incorrect in holding that only "predominantly auditory broadcasts" like AM/FM radio are considered "radio communications." The court's reading is contrary to the plain meaning of the term "radio communication" and difficult to square with the rest of the Wiretap act. The law has a difficult enough time keeping up with technology without the introduction of arbitrary distinctions based on outmoded radio technologies. We should generally favor policies and interpretations that treat similar technologies alike. When WiFi access points are not encrypted, the communications it sends are available to the public using off-the-shelf equipment similar to a CB radio or walkie-talkie. The Supreme Court should clarify that these radio technologies are treated the same under the Wiretap Act.
What “radio communication” means is an important question of federal law because the narrow definition adopted by the court of appeals calls into question the legality of standard techniques used by IT professionals across the country every day to secure and optimize wireless networks. The lack of clarity that results from the court of appeals’ decision makes it harder for IT professionals to secure wireless networks, threatening the security of our nation’s wireless infrastructure.
View ITIF's amicus brief on Google v. Joffe filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
A Communications Act Update Should Continue to Liberalize Spectrum Management
ITIF filed comments with the House Energy and Commerce Committee making a number of recommendations related to spectrum policy under a Communications Act Update. ITIF recommended an Update continue down the path of liberalizing spectrum management and attempt to decentralize interference mitigation to licensees. Numerous other recommendations included an expanded role for unlicensed in higher spectrum bands that can accommodate user-controlled devices, and that the Committee work towards a structure to incentivize more efficient use of federal spectrum, favoring relinquishment where economically feasible.
Channel Sharing Pilot Holds Promise
Two Los Angeles television stations have volunteered for an experimental pilot to share infrastructure and spectrum for their broadcasts. Such channel sharing is potentially a valuable tool to ensure a successful incentive auction, helping transition to more valuable uses of spectrum.
Post-Sandy Telecom Melodrama
An AP story is making the rounds about an 85 year old heart patient who can no longer connect his pacemaker to his doctor from his home in Mantoloking, N. J. because Verizon has replaced his wired telephone service with a wireless equivalent. The kernel of truth in the story is that Verizon is not going to replace the copper telephone wires. Copper telephone wire is an obsolete technology that costs an awful lot to replace.