The Internet, State Laws, and You

ImageThis is first in a series of articles aimed at exploring the politico techno environment that prevails today. First up, is a look at state laws, and how they have shaped the Internet, and influenced people’s lives.

We will begin with 1993s Pennsylvania house bill 30. This bill regulated how telecoms could function in Pennsylvania. It limited their pricing plans and scope of what they could and could not do.

Fast-forward to a decade later, many municipalities around the state are thinking about making the Internet, or I should say access to the Internet like a utility of the municipalities. However, this would take Internet access out of the hands of the telecoms. So with Verizon lead the telecoms in to battle and had the House bill 30 renewed with a prevision that only those municipalities who had started a wifi service before could continue to offer service. Unless the telecoms waived the right to service of said municipalities then they could proceed.

Another area of discussion is state laws requiring people to get an auctioneers license to sale items on EBay. Some of these states are Ohio, North Carolina, and where I live, Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania two bills were proposed, house bill No. 1889 and Senate bill No. 908

These two bills would require an individual to get an auctioneers license, or at the very least register with the state government. These bills would effectively allow the states to tax anything that you sale on EBay. It’s an end run around the federal ban on taxing the internet. In Pennsylvania, there is a woman who the state is prosecuting for violating these laws. She is facing up to 10 million dollars in fines (up to 2000 dollars per infraction).

The purpose of visiting these past news events is to highlight the point that it is not only the federal government which is making our online lives miserable. That states also have a hand in governing the internet. In addition, whether it is greed, or just plain ignorance if these bills are signed into laws it hurts us the online denizens. Next up we’ll look at the DMCA which will soon mark its tenth anniversary.

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