Salt Lake City Drinking Liberally

Promoting democracy in Utah one pint at a time.

January 24, 2008

Pete Ashdown vs. Nanny-state Legislators [UPDATED]

Pete Ashdown sent an e-mail to his Politech list today that I really liked:

Since 2002, I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in building a free community wireless network. This initiative started with the Olympic games and has expanded to many other locations(1) – gathering places, Salt Lake City Main Street, libraries, Liberty Park, Pioneer Park and an ambitious project in Ogden that will eventually cover most of the city. Unlike other many other municipal wireless projects, the installation and support of these systems has been done without tax dollars. The benefit to business, tourism, students and the public is clear and often spoken of to me.

This week, Representative Brad Daw(2) wrote House Bill 139(3) which will effectively put an end to public XMission Free Wireless. Sourcing from a legislator who describes himself as being in favor of “limited government”, this bill introduces civil penalties if a minor is able to access pornography over public wireless Internet. With XMission wireless never earning one red cent in profit, the potential of a civil suit hanging over its operation immediately makes it not viable. The moment this bill is signed into law, I will shut down all XMission free wireless and cease expansion of this service.

Some may accuse me of packing up my “toys”(4) and refusing to cooperate. When this plan surfaced last year(5), I had a long conversation with Representative Daw expressing my concerns of such legislation. In reading the text of this bill, I see those concerns were flatly ignored. XMission has provided free Internet filters longer than any other provider in the state, but I can never guarantee that a minor can not access pornography over an Internet connection. Nor do I believe government or business is the best parent of my children or anyone else’s.

While the corporatives at the Utah Legislature sharpen their knives to deal a death blow to the public infrastructure fiber-network UTOPIA(6) to protect private interests, their cohorts effectively scribe business-burdensome legislation against XMission rolling wireless networks without public dollars. As the owner of the largest free public wireless Internet network in Utah, I see this bill as anti-XMission and anti-business to the core.

(1) http://xmission.com/wireless/
(2) http://braddaw.com/
(3) http://le.utah.gov/~2008/bills/hbillint/hb0139.htm
(4) http://peteashdown.org/media/radio/kuer-20070424.mp3
(5) http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/04/19/2129256
(6) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_Telecommunication_Open_Infrastructure_Agency

Someone on another technology list wrote a letter to Rep. Daw stating his dissatisfaction with him, and called him a fraud – presumably because this constituent found it counter to what’s stated on Rep. Daw’s website: “Solidly conservative. I believe in limited government, low taxes, property and gun ownership rights..”

Call me a cynic, but this is exactly the kind of bill I’d expect from someone “solidly conservative”.

02/06/2008 UPDATE: It’s now coming out that the Daw Law is being pushed by Ralph Yarro, the former chairman of the SCO group, a company that has been a thorn in the side of technology progress in recent years. Yarro’s group is called CP80, and they’re trying to get laws in place that put porn sites on a port other than the standard web port used to connect to most websites.

Yarro’s lack of understanding on the way the Internet works is no surprise, I suppose. It’s just too bad he’s still here in Utah to help keep up the stereotype of us being a bunch of backwards yokels.

by @ 4:44 pm. Filed under Local Issues, Soapbox

2 Responses to “Pete Ashdown vs. Nanny-state Legislators [UPDATED]”

  1. Janus Says:

    Thanks; I hadn’t known about this.

  2. Janus Says:

    The obscurely named CP80 Foundation:
    http://www.cp80.org/
    is allegedly non-profit. I expect that Yarro plans to get money off having Daw pass some laws for him, possibly by selling mandated “security” software, or some other boondogle. We could put some current information on the CP80 wikipedia page:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:The_CP80_Foundation&action=edit

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