FCC thinks it has authority over PCs and everything that can play a show

Public Knowledge, EFF and others are suing the FCC, arguing that it doesn't have the authority to impose the Broadcast Flag rule. The Broadcast Flag says that anyone who makes a device to receive digital television signals has to get all its recording and output technologies approved by the FCC, and the FCC will withhold approval from all technologies save those that encrypt the shows and keep you from doing what you want with them.

Susan Crawford has posted some very cogent analysis of the FCC's position in the case — the Commission is arguing that it doesn't just have jurisdiction over things for receiving shows — it can regulate anything that can play a show that originates on cable or the airwaves.

The thing is, this rule doesn't merely affect TV receiving equipment. It affects everything that RECEIVES digital files from TV receiving equipment as well — every device inside any home network. It affects the open-platform PC. It's a sweeping rule. And now FCC's jurisdiction to enact this rule is being argued in sweeping terms.

Why should we care about all of this? We should care because if the FCC has the power to act on anything that has something to do with communication, we have only the FCC's self-restraint to rely on when it comes to all internet communications. We should care because we want open platforms and open communications to continue. We should care because the future of the internet is at stake — the FCC will use its "ancillary jurisdiction" to impose "social policies" on any services that use the internet protocol, and will point to its broadcast flag action as support for its jurisdictional claims.


(Thanks, David!)