CFP'92 - Free Speech and the Public Telephone Network
Thursday, March 19, 1992 10:45-12:15
Chair: Jerry Berman, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Panel: Henry Geller, The Markle Foundation
Eli Noam, Columbia University
John Podesta, Podesta Associates
Bob Peck, American Civil Liberties Union
BERMAN: Thank you. I'm Jerry Berman, and today I'm the Washington office director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. On some of the early programs, I was listed as with the American Civil Liberties Union, but I've since transferred to this organization which we view as an emerging, growing, public interest organization focusing on the potential of new technologies to serve democratic and constitutional values. The panel today and I as the chair want to talk about free speech and the public telephone network.
As you all know, the telephone network already does more than carry plain old telephone service, in that it is a pathway for data communications, teleconferencing, and the like. And as the phone network becomes a digital path in the near future through ISDN, it will carry voice, data, and video. Over time, it will become a fiber-optic network, broad-band, and will carry high-definition television. So we see the telephone network as becoming a principal means by which citizens engage in commerce, receive entertainment and information, and engage in politics. The issue we want to address today is what policies are needed to ensure that free speech diversity and the free flow of information is maximized over that emerging telephone network.
I believe that the issue is only now beginning to receive the attention it deserves. For too long, the debate about the telephone network has occurred in the courts, and has been in terms of antitrust policy. It has been presided over by Judge Greene and has focused on the breakup of AT&T. Last summer, Judge Greene, reluctantly, acting under a ruling of the Court of Appeals, permitted the regional Bell telcos to enter the information services market; in other words, to provide electronic content over its network or their networks, which is also the path by which they must carry the information services of everyone else. Congress continues to debate this issue -- there was a hearing yesterday -- in terms of antitrust. Will the telcos discriminate against other information providers of content? Or will they cross- subsidize their information services from the telephone rate base?
I believe there are fundamental First Amendment issues posed here. It is not simply whether the telcos have First Amendment rights to publish over their own network. Yesterday, Mr. Neuharth criticized the newspaper publishers for supporting legislation to keep the telcos out of information services in their own regions until there are alternative means by which other providers can reach businesses and residences, as somehow violative of the First Amendment and posing the danger of government regulation. What are the implications of Mr. Neuharth's assertion that telcos are newspapers that have full First Amendment rights? Does this mean that they can, like any newspaper, make editorial decisions about what is carried over their network? How is this consistent with their common carrier obligations to carry all content without discrimination?
Secondly, can a level playing field for all information providers be accomplished without some government regulation? We are not talking about an unregulated industry -- this is a highly-regulated wire. But Mr. Neuharth claims that no regulation is the correct regime. At a minimum, aren't safeguards necessary to ensure the telcos do not limit the free speech and free flow of information of others to achieve a competitive advantage?
At another level, as we move from voice to enhanced data services, it is not clear that these enhanced services are covered under common carrier rules. They are not part of the rate base -- courts are very blurry on it -- so we find long distance carriers now discriminating on the basis of content and 900 number services. You have Congress coming in to try to regulate controversial speech using the network. How are we going to ensure the common carriage regime for voice, data, and video in the future, particularly when in the near term, not very far from now, Jesse Helms is going to have a Minitel terminal on his desk and he's going to be able to see and read what's going on in the network now. This is a wide open robust debate if you're on the Internet, or any of the other nets, just beyond the mass public's reach. When they find out what's on it, there's going to be a blistering fight over what kind of regime we're going to have with the telephone network. Is it going to be like print? Or is it going to be like broadcast? And I think that much is at stake, particularly when information services crack into the mass market -- media.
We also have the breakdown of pure common carriage, as public networks connect to private networks, such as Prodigy and Compuserve. There's been a lot of discussion about whether Prodigy is a publisher or a common carrier, and whether they ought to be required to carry the speech of others, or whether they can regulate their own content. And can any firm, be it Compuserve or Prodigy, choose to be a common carrier or not a common carrier? And if they connect, how can we ensure the free flow of information over interconnecting private networks?
And finally, of great concern to the Electronic Frontier Foundation is how can new capacities, new infrastructure, whether it's ISDN in the near term or fiber optics in the long term, help to secure the diversity of speech and a level playing field by encouraging more innovation, more participants in the information world? Fundamentally, how can we break the ongoing telecommunications policy deadlock between the telcos, the publishers, cable, and the rest to create a First Amendment regime and an electronic public forum for all of us?
To address these issues, panelists will have ten minutes apiece, and then we'll open it up for questions. We have a distinguished panel -- Henry Geller, who will speak first, is a Markle Foundation fellow and has been a major voice in telecommunications policy both at the FCC and later as head of NTIA.
We have John Podesta of Podesta Associates, but formerly chief counsel to the Senate Subcommittee on Law and Technology and one of the principal authors of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which, as you know from yesterday, is under threat because of the same digital conversion into digital media.
We have Bob Peck, who succeeds me at the ACLU in handling these issues for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Last is Eli Noam from Columbia University, author on telecommunications policy, formerly with the New York Public Utilities Commission. Henry?
GELLER: I'll go very fast and perhaps oversimplify. The title is "Free Speech in the Public Telephone Network." In my opinion, allowing the public telephone network to enter the information services field is critical to the flourishing of free speech to the First Amendment issues that are here.
You need telco entry for a number of reasons, and in describing them, I'll go into narrowband -- the platform that Jerry has referred to -- the integrated service digital platform, and the broadband -- the fiber optic one, the one that involves the provision of video programming. What you'll hear, I think, a great deal from me and from Eli, is that the key here is the common carrier nature of the telephone system. It must serve everybody indifferently, it cannot censor, and it is up to the government when it is operated correctly -- to say that something is obscene, libelous, that's not up to the telephone company. If that is adhered to, then you have, I think, the strongest possible First Amendment basis.
In the narrowband field, the restriction was the one from Judge Greene and the modified final judgment. It did not allow the divested Bell operating companies to go into information services -- that is now gone as the result of court decisions, and is the subject of a great deal of controversy, as most of you know, on the Hill at the present time. The one thing you can count on, however, is that the Hill never acts -- it send messages, but it seems to be impossible for them to legislate in this field, because they have to choose between warring industries, and they hate to do that.
The restriction actually was modified by Judge Greene in 1987 and 1988 when he allowed the Bell operating companies to go into transmission information services. Those are services that do not involve content -- voice mail, electronic messaging, protocol and code conversion, things of that nature. He didn't find that they weren't still a monopoly and couldn't do a lot of damage -- what he found was that the benefits far outweighed any damage. That if small business or residences were to get the benefits of these information services, you had to let the public switched network do that. And I think he's right about it -- you can see the flourishing of voice mail and other things now. He kept them out of information content services on very specious grounds. I agree with what Mr. Neuharth said yesterday -- all this is is protectionism for the newspaper industry. It makes no sense at all.
The benefits are still there. If you look at just one, for example, this fight is really about electronic yellow pages. The newspapers get 30% of their revenues from classified ads, and they don't want in the future to see a telephone company having electronic yellow pages online where you dial up Ajax Chevrolet and you can get any information you want on availability, prices of 80 different models, changing every minute because it's a computer. The newspapers didn't want to lose their competitive edge -- they fought very hard to keep it, and they're still fighting in Congress to keep it. I think the word is just protectionism.
If electronic yellow pages work, there are great benefits for other services. In a shopping mall, you need an anchor, a Bloomingdale's, a Macy's, something of that nature, and then you get a lot of other stores. The same thing is here true of video text -- you need some anchor service that will attract other people, then you get a great deal of contribution to commerce, to First Amendment. Most people believe that if there is a major issue, it is electronic yellow pages. At least the market ought to decide that, not government policy for protectionist reasons.
When you get to the subject here of how do you protect the telcos, because they are monopolies -- there's no question they are -- the two issues are, as you heard, improper cross- subsidization and allowing interconnection, allowing rivals to have connection to the network which is so crucial to them. As far as cross-subsidization is concerned, a number of devices have been worked out to protect customer proprietary information. There are safeguards in something called Computer 2 and 3; on network information being made available in a discriminatory fashion to the telephone company's affiliate, once again there are protections. There are accounting protections that are computerized as independent audits. There are a whole series of protections that have come in here. Another one is the increased use of price caps -- I can't go into them in ten minutes, but essentially they freeze the monopoly prices for four years. So even if you're pouring costs in there, you still have to charge the same prices.
None of these are perfect. There is no such thing as perfect regulation, any more than there is perfect competition. But on balance, the benefits far outweigh any detriments that may come in this field.
I want to point out that the divested companies have been in transmission services since 1988, and the sky has not fallen. I also want to point out that there are a number of other telephone companies that have operated without these restrictions, and again, there have been no problems with their doing so. GTE is not under any restriction, it is a $29 billion company, twice the size of Ameritech and PacTel put together, far larger than any BOC. It engages in very substantial information services, makes a contribution in them, and has been no problem. So, I can't see why the world will come to an end if the RBOCs go in.
It would be better, I think, in the content services area to use a separate subcontractor. I say that because a subcontractor has enhanced accounting. There is no detriment because of the fact that when you talk about content -- electronic yellow pages -- there aren't any economies of scale or scope. There's no joint marketing or joint maintenance. Ameritech uses separate subs -- I don't see why they don't here. As far as the interconnection which is so crucial, the FCC has worked out open network architecture plans. They are now in effect, they are being refined, they are again not perfect, but I think that on balance they do suffice to ensure fair interconnection.
Let me turn now to the broadband area, and here, many of you know that all bits are alike. The fact is that if the bits are television programming, the telephone company is forbidden to engage in cable television activities in the area in which they own a telephone system. This is in the 1984 Cable Act. Again, there's a large controversy about it and it is unlikely to be swept aside -- not soon, anyway. Therefore, the issue here is one of video dial tone, of the telco's coming but not in content, of providing the equivalent of common carrier service, but for a broadband television outlet.
I think, again, that it would be a terrific development from the point of view of the First Amendment. Jerry mentioned the print model. If you look at the analogy, the one model that has worked for us, from the First Amendment point of view, is print. Anybody who wants to can start a newsletter, can start a magazine, send it out over a common carrier, over the postal service. Today with telephone and fax, you can send it out over the telephone company. The government can intervene only if it's obscene, or something of that nature. That's the model you want.
The model you don't want is the broadcast model or the cable model. In both of those, you have a bottleneck. The cable system and the broadcaster are not common carriers, they are programmers. They decide yes or no, and that, while they have added a great deal of diversity, clearly can be a First Amendment horror. I give you just one example -- I think everybody admires CNN, the 24-hour news service. The reason why you only have one 24-hour news service, no competing one, is simply the structure of the cable television industry. NBC spends $300 million a year to develop news, it wanted to put it on cable also and compete with CNN. They could not do so -- TCI, who has 24% of the subscribers, and Time-Warner, which has close connections with Ted Turner, do not want it. The result is that NBC had to crawl back as CNBC, a financial network, and its contracts specify that it is not to do general news. The market ought to have decided that, not the structure of the industry. Just think, if all you had was ABC Evening News, instead of CBS and NBC, not because the public doesn't want it, but because that's the structure of the television industry. So what I'm telling you is that, while cable adds a great deal of diversity, from a First Amendment point of view, it sucks, and something ought to be done about it. (laughter)
I think that the only answer to it is the telephone company, because the telephone company is a common carrier. It can be made to operate as a common carrier. The telephone company is coming now with trunking and fiber, with feeder within one mile; it will go (I've got one minute) into distribution, and that's the local loop. The real issue here is not whether it will do it, it is when. Copper wears out at the rate of 3% a year. If you run that out, you've got 33 years. If you want to accelerate the move from analog switches to digital, you can. You can do it by the ratepayers paying until you reach a critical mass and revenues come in, but you can also do it by jiggling the price caps. Again, I can't talk about productivity, particularly in one minute.
The final thing I want to talk about -- I believe you get great benefits, from the First Amendment point of view, from linking the multimedia computers that are coming onstream. You will get benefits also in distance learning, in education, in health and other things. New Jersey has opted to do it by the year 2010.
The final thing is the issue that Jerry raised -- and he's quite right. If you call it -- and I can't in 30 seconds now -- if you call it enhanced, it is deregulated, and then you can do anything you want. I'm looking at last week's Telecommunications Report, and it says that MCI will offer 900 service to political candidates, but it can prohibit programs that contain inflammatory or demeaning portrayals on the basis of political affiliation, in their sole discretion. So what you've got is a programmer. In the broadcast field, you have to make time available to federal candidates, you can't censor. So you can get your message out uncensored there, but if you moved over to a common carrier, you call it enhanced. I think that there have to be revisions here using Title I. I'm over my minute. (applause)
BERMAN: John Podesta?
PODESTA: First, a couple of observations -- for a group of technology people, putting the clock over there where you can't see it is dumb. (laughter) I need to add a factoid to my resume that Jerry threw out: just in the interest of full disclosure, I do some work for the newspaper publishers. Most of my time is spent beating up on the Bell operating companies, but in this case, it's a labor of love. (laughter) One other observation: I thought when you assembled a group of 300 or 400 people, over half of which know the difference between RSA and NSA, there'd be a lot more talk about Cyberspace and virtual reality, and we're sort of down to earth here in the course of this conversation. I just saw Bruce Sterling walk into the back -- hopefully he'll spice it up a little bit at lunchtime. I don't know where he is.
I actually decided to start it off by being a little retro this morning -- instead of talking about the future, talking a little bit about the past and describing a 50-year-old Frank Capra movie called "Mister Smith Goes to Washington." It's a little instructive of what we're on the panel to talk about. It was kind of the dark age of government back in the 1930's -- the cynical, corrupt machine ran Congress; everybody was on the take; everybody was beholden to shadowy special interests. I know it's going to be hard for you to recognize this, given our government today, but (laughter) remember that it was just a movie and it was 50 years ago. Jimmy Stewart comes to Washington to fight the power and attack the corrupt machine. He really only had three things going for him when he decided to filibuster against the special interests. He had a bladder that rivaled Strom Thurmond's (who once spent 26 hours filibustering the Civil Rights Bill); he had a friend back home with a small printing press; and he had an army of Boy Scouts who rushed around town on bicycles delivering little flyers exposing the machine and what was going on in Washington. The corrupt politicians in Washington and the people back home tried to think of everything they could to stop him, and they finally figured out his one vulnerability. They all got into big black cars, raced around, and drove those kids on bicycles off the roads and into the ditches. Right now there are still people trying to get information from one end of town to the other, from one virtual community to another, and there are still forces trying to force them off the electronic road.
What we're doing, I think, is trying to make decisions today about what kind of network we'll have which creates the maximum possible diversity to get as much information through the network as possible, to transmit data, to communicate, to protect privacy, but first and foremost, to create diversity.
I guess I need to start by disagreeing a little bit with Henry about the question of just protecting status quo. I think that the newspaper publishers on the Hill have always taken the position that it's okay for Bell operating companies to go offer information services, even electronic yellow pages, where they don't control the wire, where it's out of region. If PacTel wants to go start an electronic yellow pages, and they're smart, and they know how to do it and get rid of the Chicago Tribune's advertising revenue in Chicago, they should be free to go ahead and do it. It's only where they control the wire, where they have that bottleneck, where they can force you off, where they can do a variety of things that prevent you from getting information from one end to the other where they have a problem.
I think if we rely on the status quo, sort of post-Greene, where there are no safeguards on monopolization, where there are no guarantees of equal access, where there's no protection for individual users, we're going to end up creating a network which really furthers the interests of the network owners rather than the network users. We're going to end up with a network with fewer voices; where more and more intelligence and functionality in the network is sucked inside the network and owned by the owners instead of being distributed outside to the users. We're going to be faced with censorship by government -- we've talked mostly about the public switch network. I just want to make an aside and say that there's a lot of discussion about NREN. I think Jerry stated in his opening comments about Jesse Helms not knowing what's going on in the E-mail world, sort of MCIMail. Just wait until he plugs into the Internet. I hope Bob will talk a little bit about Rust v. Sullivan. What happens, at least under this Supreme Court -- that's the gag rule case -- when the government starts giving you money to build infrastructure? What are they able to do to your First Amendment rights?
I think we'll see some censorship by network owners. I wanted to mention one case -- Henry already mentioned MCI and the 900 case on political users. U.S. West, a while ago, decided that they would not bill for 900 services that might let users make charitable or political contributions, send a telegram to a politician, provide information packets or delivery of goods, or damage its corporate reputation. Some people thought there wasn't much corporate reputation left, after they paid the largest fine in civil history for violating the MFJ. At any rate, I think we're going to find a greater tendency toward invasions of privacy in the network if we don't put in some safeguards today. Again, Henry mentioned the CPNI rules, which are rules about how one can competitively get access to customer information data. But those are not privacy rules -- they really hardly apply to individual users. Phone companies are free to monitor your traffic and decide what services to sell you, how you go about your daily life, whether you are home or not.
At any rate, I want to mention a mix of policies -- six things that I think need to happen. Some could happen in the Congress -- although the one point I think where we do agree is it seems like nothing very much ever happens in the Congress -- some can happen through courts, but I think six things need to happen. We do need structural change to open up the loop. There needs to be more competition, and the platform needs to be made more open. EFF has thrown out on the table in Congress the proposal for personal ISDN, to bring ISDN into the home at a tariff and a rate that people could actually afford. I think that's an important step in the right direction, as well as less control by the FCC of the open network, sort of operating on the theory that more modularization will create more competition in the local loop. I think there need to be structural safeguards on cross-subsidies, and I think the FCC is headed in the wrong direction on those kinds of questions and legislation is needed in that area. I think the common carrier responsibilities of nondiscrimination on a content-neutral basis need to be established more firmly. Right now the notion of nondiscrimination, if it's based on content-neutral equations, doesn't help us very much, because you can set a standard in which everybody who has only things that are noncontroversial to say can be carried.
Several things haven't been mentioned -- the originators of messages, rather than network intermediaries, need to bear the legal responsibility for transmission of obscene or tortious communications or copyright violations. The Compuserve case in the southern district of New York was a step in the right direction. There are network providers, both the common carrier model and private providers, who have begun to develop acceptable use policies, and because of the fear of tort suits or copyright violations, have tried to squeeze out whatever is interesting that's being built into the net or being said on the net.
I think we need to protect privacies against invasion of privacy. The bills that are pending in Congress require affirmative consent by the user before phone companies can begin to analyze and market data, both to their separate subsidiaries and to others. I think that would be a good step and a step in the right direction. We talked some yesterday about the government's proposal, from the FBI, to begin to affect the network in ways which will make it less secure and thus open it up to invasions of privacy, not just by the government, but by others. I think it's a little disingenuous of the Justice Department representative to say this about whether we'll be able to wiretap in the future. We can fight about it later. I think this is a question of whether it's going to be easier or harder to wiretap in the future, and the FBI needs to bear some of the responsibility to figure out a way to execute lawful warrants.
And finally, again, I think the purpose of this whole panel is that we need to guarantee strong First Amendment rights for network users. Again, a point of agreement with Henry -- the adopting of a broadcast or a cable model I think would be disastrous for both the users of the networks and the network itself. Thank you. (applause)
PECK: My name is Bob Peck. I'm the "player to be named later" -- I don't appear in your program. "Later" means that I was named, or should I say probably fingered, just yesterday to join you today. As Jerry said, I'm here as a representative of the ACLU. His description of my background as his successor on these issues of the ACLU made it sound as if I sprung full-blown as soon as I got that job, which is, of course, not exactly how I ever would have thought of or described my job. My responsibilities are for the First Amendment issues at the office. Anyway, having settled that issue...
BERMAN: Sorry, Bob.
PECK: ...there is a story about a schoolteacher in New York City who was fed up with the crowded, overtaxed way that public education was a century ago there, even then. He decided that he would try to take a new job in the West, in one of these one-room schoolhouses. He decided that because of his great credentials, his college education, his manners, his breeding, he would have no difficulty in landing a job. Sure enough, he found a place that was looking for a schoolteacher. This one-room, very crude schoolhouse was the place where he was interviewed. A group of farmers, raw- boned, large men, interviewed him. One pulled up a chair, put his foot up on it, leaned close to the sitting schoolteacher, and asked, "Do you teach that the world is round or that it's flat?" The schoolteacher looked into his eyes and realized that this answer was going to determine whether he got this job. He had no clue as to what the farmer thought the correct answer would be. Relying on his savvy and his education, he replied, "I'm a very good schoolteacher. I can teach it round or I can teach it flat. Which would you prefer?" (laughter)
The fact is, that as to this issue, you can teach the First Amendment both round and flat. When it comes to the entry of the RBOCs into the system, there is a First Amendment issue. For a governmentally-imposed ban to exist on their entry into the information services is suppression of speech. That's very clear. There are also First Amendment considerations in the way that they enter it, and what kind of safeguards exist to make sure that we do have a marketplace of ideas in this system. That is going to be the challenge of this issue: how do we assure safeguards, how do we assure that this is indeed a common carrier network where nobody dominates, where nobody sort of fills up the space and says, well, there's no more room for anyone else. How do we make sure that everyone gets charged the same rates? It's important that the capacity be sufficient to guarantee that everyone else can enter, too. That there is, as Jerry said, a level playing field.
Congress enters this because the First Amendment, while prohibiting an abridgement of free speech, certainly did not prohibit an enhancement of speech. And not only are there rights on other information providers, but there is also the right, whatever you think of the rest of the decision in the Red Line case, of the listeners -- the people who want the information. And so, this is how Congress needs to approach and deal with this very difficult issue.
I had not planned to cover Rust v. Sullivan, but -- I actually had not planned a great deal for this speech -- since John brought it up, I will take up the cudgel. Rust v. Sullivan was the case that said that under Title X, family planning clinics could not, because of an administrative regulation, give any information or answer any questions about abortion to anyone who had come into the clinic. This has been dubbed "The Gag Rule." As a matter of fact, the regulations suggested, but did not require, that if a person came into the clinic and said, "What about abortion as an option?" The correct response was supposed to be, "This is a family planning clinic, we do not provide information about that. The government regards that as an inappropriate means of family planning." This, of course, was compelled speech. But the Supreme Court approved it, and this was a bar on their speech simply because they received government money. I did a debate a few months ago with the Solicitor General, who argues the cases for the U.S. government in front of the Supreme Court. He described the Rust principle coming from that Supreme Court decision as essentially being: we paid for the microphone, we get to say what gets said. That should be absurd and that should also trouble many people. (applause) Indeed, there are many efforts to attempt to reverse that precedent, not only directly on the gag rule itself, but as a principle of government. Soon we expect to see legislation to that effect. It is absurd; it is essentially an unconstitutional condition on the receipt of federal money; and it is being argued by the Justice Department in numerous other cases any time when government money is involved. Again, this is another thing to be avoided.
Instead, the regulation we're talking about here needs to indeed make sure that there is that level playing field, that there are the interconnect rights, that there is the ability to charge the same rates, to be able to do what a legitimate competitor can do, without saying, well, because we own the system, we also have certain competitive advantages. Those should not exist, and as Henry said, it should be the marketplace that decides which information providers survive and which ones do not.
I'm going to stop now so that Eli can begin. I will leave lots of time for questions, although I assume that the most pressing question that any of you wants to ask I know is one that I can't answer, and that is why these hotel rooms are always so cold. (laughter)
NOAM: There's a lot of talk about virtual reality. There's now even a movie called, and I didn't make this title up, "Lawnmower Man," that deals with virtual reality. I can't get very excited about this, having just spent three years in virtual reality, namely state government. (laughter) I tried for three years for be a living oxymoron -- a forward-looking state utility commissioner. (laughter)
Now, being back in the real world of academia (laughter), I'd like to make some comments on the topic. The topic, of course, is a bit well-worn to those of us in telecommunications policy. I'll speak to it very briefly, because I've talked about it too often for some of you here. Concerning the telco role in information service, it's a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. The critical issue is the infrastructure, the conduit, not the content issue, and the telco here has one bad argument and a good argument. The bad argument is the economic one, which is, unless they are permitted into information services somehow the conduit cannot be financed. I can go into the details, but I think it is fuzzy economic thinking.
On the other hand, they have an excellent argument on the constitutional level, which is, if anybody can use the common carrier, why not they themselves? Of course, in some separated fashion, separated organizationally and financially so there will not be cross-subsidies. I don't see any problem with that -- I think they will prevail in the courts.
On the local loop competition, of course that's a good thing, I encourage it. We did that in New York. In fact, it reduces that bottleneck, and there's no way it cannot enhance diversity. There is the issue of the common carrier competing against potentially non-common carriers, but we can solve that.
Third, the infrastructure question in the topic -- infrastructure design and the First Amendment. Sure, the infrastructure has an impact -- if you have more channels, broadband, you would have more free speech and diversity. Open network architecture interconnection arrangements and so on help do that. So, having disposed of the topic, Jerry? (laughter)
Let me try get a bit ahead of the inside-the-Beltway-type of issues. I was going to talk here about the need for a Telecommunications Act of 2034, but Henry has heard that speech twice before, so instead I'm going to talk about something more elevated, namely the need for a new constitution. (laughter) The whole notion of free speech on some level, and I might get into trouble at home, is that free speech on some level is rooted in an anachronistic concept, or one that will be anachronistic. This is a notion of scarcity, which requires allocation of access, of protection against restraints on those limited channels. In turn, these restraints are partly based on the notion of the power of the channel, of the medium, because there are so few of them. If you have only three TV channels, say, then it is of course important what the content will be, whether it is immoral, illegal, radical, or what have you. But if you've got 9000 channels, basically, who cares? Now, the future will in fact lead to an abundance of access capacity, technologically.
The case I visited recently, Queens Cable System, has 150 channels. You can watch the same movie every 30 minutes, if you are so inclined, if you really don't want to see the end of it. In Canada, one cable system permits you to watch the same sports event from different angles, so that you can have your own control, whether you want to see it from the goalie's perspective or from the attacker's perspective. On the production front, too -- although of course that doesn't move quite as rapidly as the transmission channels -- it becomes cheaper and cheaper to produce home movies. In the future, there will be a large core of skilled people -- just as today's kids are computer-literate -- who will also be video-literate. And with those desktop video phones that are just around the corner, one can create in the future group networks, subgroups that communicate with each other over video, and one can also imagine totally new applications for obscene phone calls. (laughter)
Now, in this environment, of course, there will be some free speech issues remaining. Some of them are good old friends, some of them will be new ones, so there is work to be done. I think I would like to point out some of the new issues that will be in front of us. I think it's classic in any analysis of new technologies to be over-optimistic about the short term, and under-optimistic, or too cautious, about long term effects. So there is, of course, always the notion that in three years everybody will have a wristwatch high-definition television strapped around their arm, something along these lines. That is not going to happen.
On the other hand, people are too conservative about long term. Let me take, for example, telecommuting. That has been predicted as just around the corner for a long time. It is happening. But it's not happening rapidly. People come up with all kinds of reasons why it can't happen, but I think that's just as wrong as looking back at some of the old analyses, say 100 years ago, of who would use the telephone and for what. Boy, were they wrong! When we talk of telecommuting today, it is phrased in these sort of cautious, pragmatic terms: it's going to save energy, it's going to save some time commuting to work. But people ask much less, is it going to really change society, change organizations, change the nature of work? It will, in fact, create, I believe, not just telecommuting to work, but telecommuting, in a way, to society. It's the issue of how you are linked to society. I think that in the future, we will have telecommunities, private network-based groups, subcultures, communities of interests linked together with some forms of telecommunications networks.
Now, some of the implications are, for example, political. Our political system is based on jurisdictions. Those jurisdictions are territorily defined -- you and your neighbors, basically. But in the future your neighbors might be your teleneighbors, and that raises the question, is this a new form of political entity that is emerging here, and if so, how do we govern these entities? Do we need some form of constitutional arrangement for these entities? Now part of the nature of these telecommunities is, for example, extraterritorial, and also international. It's not that the countries of the United States, Canada, Mexico, France, and so on, each have these telecommunities, but that the communities will cover all these countries.
That also means, for example, at a very practical level, that the telecommunities will transcend time zones, which means that you are beginning to have groups already in a hacker environment. The thing that is noticeable is that they live in their own time zones in a sense that the group has its time zone, rather than its locality.
It means, for example, that those groups are also stratified by their work or profession rather than by being a mix of various professions, interests, and so on, that exist in a physical neighborhood. General Motors can start its network for its producers, manufacturers, suppliers, and so on, but then it could transcend in no time to some kind of employee clubs. Then these networks could become a kind of social life environment, establishing friendships across the network. And these groups increasingly become subcultures, and as all subcultures are, they reinforce a certain latent extremism in individuals, because they miss the averaging, the centrism, of the average.
Now we also have an information glut coming on us, and the production and distribution of information will become secondary issues. The key issue becomes not how you distribute it, but how you can screen it. Soon the technology makes possible that just about any random thought spoken by anybody on the run can be automatically transcribed, and can then be faxed to hundreds of innocent bystanders. The problem, then, becomes how to handle information, not how to produce it or how to distribute it. And so the question is, who screens and how do you screen. The alternatives here are first, that the users screen it. But basically, the user's brain is kind of the ultimate bottleneck.
If you look at today's New York Times, there's a fascinating little article on the first business page, which describes computers becoming part of fashion. There's a certain kind of computer that you wear. I refer you to today's Times because there is today a fashion show in New York that shows you how to wear computers. (laughter) They become part of your body and increasingly they will have the function of prescreening information.
On the other hand, I think that for any kind of serious information screening, you need supercomputers of a power that doesn't exist today. Let's face it, I think at least as of last year, I was told there is no computer available that can distinguish in television between a cat and a dog. If that is the case, we still obviously need a lot more computing power to screen information.
A second screening potential is by the network itself, which raises of course very problematic issues of control; or thirdly, by user groups of sorts, which gets us back to the user group in the telecommunities, and to my last points here. How much time do I have?
BERMAN: If you're really solving the problem, take several more minutes.
NOAM: Well, this is another classic information glut problem where things get compressed, and the 15-second sound bite in the political sphere is just a logical extension of exactly that problem.
The Constitution that has to be, that has to exist, I think, must deal with three issues. The first one is the right of the individual versus the government. The problem here is, as I mentioned, that you have multiple governments, so you have a question of -- and someone at EFF has coined a lovely phrase -- is the First Amendment a local ordinance? And some of you might have heard about a case in which a nationwide program provider of adult materials was forced off the air into bankruptcy because one Mississippi locality took them to court.
Now the question is, how do we deal with this internationally? How can we expand the global principle? And here I must confess myself to be somewhat of an expansionist. I think the First Amendment principle of free speech has successfully taken on the Second World as the old Soviet regime and Eastern Europe, and in fact undermined it, thus successfully establishing itself there, too, in the process. I think the order of business now is the Third World. And here I think it might be time to stop making excuses for those regimes.
A future way that free speech principles can be expanded, at least on electronic media, is through the power over international interconnections. I think there should be an international convention on electronic speech, and those countries that do not adhere to it or violate it will simply not be able to interconnect into the international grid. If they want to establish their own international repressive grid, fine with me. (laughter) That is one lever of power, and I do not see any particular reasons why one can't have this under international auspices, of course.
The second issue is the rights of the members of the telecommunities. Now, who controls these telegroups? The owner? The operator? Or the members? There are basically two choices, one is the marketplace, which is like voting with your telecommunication node. If you don't like democracy here, you can just move to another network which is more democratic -- a "love-it-or-leave-it"-type situation. I think that ultimately that's not a good system. Even suburbia, where if you don't like the school system you can move, does not have communities that are run by some kind of an owner. But I think that members at a certain point, particularly when these networks become a significant part of their lives, have to have some rights, have to have significant rights. My analogy would be the American colonies, which started out as commercial operations. There was some sort of franchise company that basically set up the environment, but over time the members began to have some rights, and established some form of democratic rights.
When the network system is a particularly powerful and encompassing one, as the Minitel system in France, the notion that France Telecom in the long term is becoming a company itself rather than a government agency and can somehow control the way in which people -- not the content, necessarily -- communicate with each other is clearly, in the long term, absurd.
So, I'd like to raise the flag of teledemocracy for the future, and a system in which certain principles would exist. Jerry unfortunately won't let me, being the power person and the gatekeeper and the kind of person I have been talking about, establish the principles that would let us deal with this. (laughter) Therefore, to the conclusion. (laughter)
We need to proceed on several fronts -- first on the idea level. Here, this is extraordinarily and unusually neglected, especially the big picture type items. Secondly, on the activist level, and some of you here are in that category and more power to you. On the media level, we've heard already over the days that the media itself is in some kind of weird mixed role, partly as the promoter of free speech but also as the competitor against others' free speech. On the regulatory level, which is kind of difficult, the states are somewhat obsessed with the jurisdictional issues and therefore the notion of these kinds of international arrangements must almost totally blow their minds. The federal agencies are captured by the Washington syndrome and system and don't really deal at all with future issues, although I think Chairman Sikes has been better than virtually anybody in that environment for many years. And lastly, on the political level -- but of course the agenda there is crowded with such issues as bank overdrafts and so we don't have time for that. Thank you very much. (applause)
BERMAN: Well, that solves the problem of free speech and the telephone network. There's time for questions and I wanted to open this up for any of the panelists. Go ahead, start up.
GLENN TENNEY: Glenn Tenney. Prof. Noam, you seem to have validated the online campaign I'm running nationwide. I'd like to raise a real First Amendment/free speech issue about the networks and see what other people have to say. Some of the mailing lists on the nets are moderated by federal employees. I posted an announcement of my campaign; this federal employee refused to dispatch it out to his mailing list because of a possible violation of the Hatch Act. How can we deal with the advancements to the 21st century, of networks and online telecommuting, of telepolitics and so forth when we have these problems? What are the solutions or what do you suggest?
NOAM: Without being able to comment on this particular case, I would think that if you are in a network environment, then the rules under which that network operates should not be set by something like a government, but rather by a representative forum, by representatives of the users. Now, in some instances, if it's the operational network of a company or a business organization, or a government on the operational level, that's a different story. If it's a forum-type environment that has a certain market power -- that is, that you don't have all these other forums parallel to it, but the individuals you need to reach have market power -- you should have a self-governing type of access control rather than an owner access control.
BERMAN: Well, Eli took us out into redoing the geography of the world around telecommunications, and as the chair, I want to focus on this issue, which a serious one. We have a serious bottleneck in terms of legislation today, in terms of deadlock between major communications forces. The First Amendment regime is being decided for the 21st century now. And right now there are no safeguards, no legislation, we're just kind of floundering around in terms of policy. I think that before we can get to the big picture, there's how do we get to this little picture. This doesn't rule the questions, but I want some focus on that.
The lady over there -- yes, ma'am?
SUSAN ROSS: My question may be a little bit broad. My name's Susan Ross, and I'm with the Technical Communication Department at a technological university near the Canadian border, but on the U.S. side. A local business newspaper up our way said that telecommunications was excluded from the U.S.-Canada free trade agreement for political reasons. I was wondering if anyone on the panel could speak to that assertion concerning, beyond jurisdiction, would those political reasons include constitutional differences? And if no one on the panel knows that, please look down afterwards to see if anyone in the audience can answer my question and find me. Thank you.
BERMAN: Does anyone...?
GELLER: There are restrictions in the Communications Act on the ownership of radio facilities. You can't own more than 25%, in effect. Most people think the restrictions are outmoded, and they do inhibit what we can do abroad. But in order to change, you have to change the Act, and it's moving very slowly. There have been proposals by the FCC and others saying that this provision in 310 ought to go. There were movements to restrict Canadian ownership of cable systems; unfortunately, they fell. But we are a long way from free trade in telecommunications. The GATT is now looking, and Europe is now being fought out. Eli can address those, but I think that our position ought to be to open up our country, but have reciprocal opening up of other countries. We have a lot of people who have invested abroad in cellular facilities and in cable facilities and we ought to allow it in this country fully. The investments, however, have been on a minority basis in almost all countries.
BERMAN: Since we have finally established equal access at the mikes, I'm going to call on you.
MARGE BAKER: My name is Marge Baker. I'm a little bit hesitant to admit this, given Eli's comments and the reaction to them, but I am from the current virtual reality of state regulation -- I work for the New York Public Service Commission. My question gets a little bit to the area you want to focus on, Jerry, which is not so much what the safeguards should be -- there's debate about that -- but what the role of the states needs to be in formulating safeguards that they in fact can use to assure that the safeguards are being followed. I mean, obviously I'm coming from a biased perspective, but no matter what the rules are, the people ultimately responsible for making sure the rules work are the states. We're the ones who control fundamentally a large portion of the cost recovery. If there are rules against cross-subsidization, even if you're in a price cap regime, you have the big issue of what the big P -- Productivity -- should be, and I don't know how you get into that without the state's having a role. So what is the role of the state in formulating the rules and making sure they're workable? I see the states excluded from the debate, largely.
PODESTA: Well, I think especially in the cross-subsidy issue, the states have been at the forefront of policing that. New York had a big case against Nynex; the Georgia Public Service Commission whacked Bell South recently on its memory call service. So, I think there's an important role to play, both from that perspective of the police power, but also from the perspective of being able to develop the net. For example, the ISDN proposal -- again, I'll come back to it that EFF has thrown it out on the table -- has as much to do, I think, with pricing how the service will be rolled out as it does with what the federal legislative role is from the perspective of interconnection, or something like that. So I think there's an extremely important role there.
BERMAN: Center mike? (Interruption) I'm sorry, Henry, do you want to add...?
GELLER: Let me add that enforceability has to be part of the debate. It came up yesterday in the hearing that Jack Brooks, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, held in which he postulated whether or not there needs to be 50,000 CPAs checking to make sure that the costs are the same and things like that. There are ways of doing that, and imperfect ways indeed, but I think of the political example where the lowest cost unit is required for all candidates, and if the broadcaster tends to favor one candidate, there is that incentive to charge the lower rate to that candidate. But there are ways without necessarily being too obtrusive to deal with that.
BAKER: Let me also say that right now we are dealing with the issue of informed written consent for release of personal information. How do you enforce that? I mean, that's great, that's absolutely right on in terms of principle. The information is out there -- how do you know how it got out there?
PODESTA: You have to rely a lot on the person who made the original release.
GELLER: I agree with what the others have said, but I want to add that there's no question the states are very important. They're close to it, they've got better grass roots, they're more innovative, and they have a terribly important role to do in ensuring proper accounting and the rest. The problem you have here is that this is a federal system, and if the state action has effects beyond the border that undermine what the federal government is trying to achieve with the allocation of radio and other purposes, then there has to be one captain. We all know, after the 1976 Louisiana case, it doesn't look like there is a really effective captain there. Congress ought to be the captain -- it doesn't act. What I'm talking about is the big fight that is going on about information services, if the FCC can preempt and prevent the states from entering these services, and how they're structured in separate subs, and so on. That's now being fought out in court again in view of the Georgia case, and no one knows how it will come out. One thing you can be sure of is that the Congress, who ought to settle it instead of relying on law developed in 1934, won't settle it again.
BERMAN: Center mike?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: In regards to public access and the cable companies, I seem to get the feeling that the cable is about the worst example of a First Amendment platform that you've seen, panel. What kind of dangerous public access-style arguments do you see coming in ISDN-style communication?
BERMAN: Are you talking about cable public access?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Right. Public access as being really not a First Amendment issue, or public access at all.
GELLER: Well, I think that the one thing that was done correctly in the 1984 Cable Act was mandating public access channels, public educational and governmental. People could get on and express their views -- so you can have mini C-Span and have the city council covered and all that. The problem with it is that it was a sweetheart deal between the cable industry, Congress, and the cities, so it's not financed. You can go up to 5% of the revenues of the cable company, but they go into the coffers of the city for potholes, pensions, whatever. In order to have real effective public access, you need money backing that up. I think that with this multi- channel environment we are coming to, one of the important things is the one that Jerry mentioned, the right of viewers here. You want people to have access and you want to have that access be effective. You can argue that yes, it's a very small audience, but if properly financed, associated with other public telecommunications, whatever it is that will contribute to the debate ought to be encouraged.
NOAM: I'd add one thing. The sweetheart deal is also with the municipalities, and I think it's important also to look at them and see whether their hands are particularly clean here. Take New York. We have had for the last four weeks a municipal program of two to five channels, depending on where you live, that are known as crosswalks. They describe themselves as the municipal, local C-Span, but of course that's kind of totally misleading. C-Span is a self- governing-type body. It's not run by President Bush, whereas crosswalks and these channels are totally under the control of the Mayor and the City Council of New York. It has become kind of a political vanity channel where assemblymen and local legislators are interviewing their own chiefs of staff (laughter) with the best of intentions. The idea, of course, is fine, but the total absence of the separation of politicians who are eager for access, continuously running for re-election, in need of money, wanting to lend themselves some profile is totally intolerable and really should be criticized by people in this community.
BERMAN: John, did you want to add something?
PODESTA: Well, I just wanted to disagree with one point in the question, which is that cable is the worst model for First Amendment. I think that over-the-air broadcasting is probably the worst model from a First Amendment perspective, and the recent debate in the Senate on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, I think, really just brings that to mind in terms of the government-controlled censorship of the airwaves.
BERMAN: The gentleman over here?
DOYLE RAINES: My name is Doyle Raines, and I'm at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, California. We've been struggling with Internet News and trying to come up with some new ways to filter the Internet News information and to come up with a way to do so and protect the freedom of information on the news. The problem is even at 18 megs a day, that's more information than we can deal with, and it's becoming very unproductive. Should everything work out the way that I hope it does, and access nationwide is granted through the telephone companies, and everybody can get on, how are we going to deal with the information glut? Are people looking beyond the idea of giving access nationwide and dealing with the real problem of filtering information and dealing with that massive amount of information?
NOAM: I spoke about that. I think that the basic idea is that the screening of information is going to be a key function, and therefore the question of who is it going to be done by, or if it's done in some kind of group environment whether there will be some kind of group control over the screening is going to be the critical issue.
GENE KIM: My name is Gene Kim. I'm from Purdue University. One idea that's been mentioned throughout the panel was this idea of a level playing field, and another idea that was mentioned by Eli Noam was the fact that you should always be optimistic in the short term. Another one of the ideas that he mentioned was that you would always have an excess of bandwidth. I find that not very convincing at all. One compelling piece of evidence is that once someone has the microphone, they are very reluctant to give it up. (laughter) In the advent of not having excess bandwidth, what would prevent, what mechanisms would there be, what policies would preserve the level playing field from preventing one group from squelching other groups out?
GELLER: In the common carrier concept, if you don't have adequate bandwidth, you have to produce other bandwidths. You could even put a restriction on that the telco itself could not engage in anything until it provided that there is bandwidth for anybody else who wanted to use it. The common carrier principle is that if you run out of bandwidth, you have to construct more, and they've been doing that. I really do think the tendency here to go to digital cells will result in enormous bandwidth. The fiber has that bandwidth, the digital compression techniques have it. I don't think the question in the future is going to be whether there is adequate bandwidth to carry the bits -- I think it will be there. The problem is going to be that if you're dealing with a cable company, you're going to have all the bandwidth in the world -- 500 channels -- and they can say, that's not a good proposition for us. We don't want it on, because we're a TV packager and we're looking at the bottom line.
BERMAN: Henry, just let me ask the question. Even in answer to that question, and addressing the level playing field, you're saying, well, you could deny the telcos entry until there was more capacity or until everyone was served. You're talking about rules and policies for a level playing field, but at the same time you dismiss the possibility of legislation. Are we really talking about the need? Will these safeguards become self-executing? How do we get there if we don't have a legislative avenue?
GELLER: But you do have legislation. It's done through the FCC. The fact that Congress can't legislate doesn't mean that the FCC can't, that states can't. Their rule-making is nothing but legislation on a different level. It's subject to attack in court. You also have court suits. I think Eli is right -- the First Amendment rights of both telcos and cable are eventually going to be settled by the Supreme Court, not by legislation, where they can do things. The only point I'm making is that there are lots of needs for rules here, but I'm not sure there's one on capacity. I think the capacity is coming -- as Eli said there are 150 channels in Queens alone. And they're not using digital compression. This system is going to digital, it is going to fiber, and to digital radio into the home or other things. You're going to have a hell of a lot of capacity, there's still going to be a need for rules, but it's going to be on access and people saying, no, I don't want you on, and I don't want you on for the following reasons, or what you're saying is inflammatory, or things of that nature.
PECK: Which is, frankly, the real issue. I think capacity will fade as an issue, but in the world of 900 numbers, that is the issue right now. Many of the providers of 900 numbers have rules that say that basically any controversial subject or group that they would not want to be associated with could be denied a 900 number. Now, you can imagine the situation when all providers of 900 numbers are on one side of some political issue, and therefore deny the access to be able to do it to anyone who organizes to oppose it.
BERMAN: I'm going to call...
DENISE CARUSO: That segues me into the question that I had. I'm Denise Caruso from the Digital Media Newsletter. You had mentioned that the enhanced services clause is a problem in terms of open access and billing and stuff. The first question is, are there any regulations now in the works to try to eliminate the enhanced services option? That's the first question. The second is that there have already been fairly serious problems with monopolistic practices by the RBOCs even under their regulated status. Once they're in information services in full force, considering how many billions of bits of information go across the phone network, is there any possible way to enforce open access to the conduit? Lawsuits are great, but they are pretty expensive for a small company.
PODESTA: I'm not an FCC expert, but my sense is that the regulations are going the other way, that more and more is becoming in the zone of enhanced service and subject less to regulation. But I'm happy to be corrected about that.
PECK: There's the new cable television bill that passed the House that tries to make common carriers the rule of thumb. I suppose a lot of people will be looking to whether that gets enacted into law, and whether there's any experience in that that provides useful information for this issue as well.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Unintelligible question -- not at microphone)
GELLER: If you look at the video dial tone proposal, it's a puzzle. I agree with what's been said. Mostly the Commission is going in the way of enhanced, and saying deregulate. In video dial tone, they said it's a gateway, and the gateway can lead consumers through it in a rudimentary fashion. They called it basic and said it must be available to all. And so you have video dial tone being proposed as everybody has a right to get it, and 900 services being proposed as well. That's enhanced, you can deregulate it. And I don't know how you parse the two together. What I'm telling you is a confused mess.
PODESTA: Ultimately I think you don't want to rely on lawsuits. It is better to rely on the open platform and competition and alternative carriers.
GELLER: On that we're in full agreement.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: How do you enforce it?
PANEL MEMBER: You have to have an FCC willing to...
NOAM: If you have an accumulation of these problems, then you will have to do what was done with AT&T -- a radical solution. I think all these carriers should be on notice that they should be permitted to do certain things as long as they fulfill the common carrier obligations in an adequate fashion. If they start trying to play games, then we have to look for Plan B, which I'm sure they won't like.
BERMAN: What you're saying is Plan B is re-regulation. In other words, ... (interruption)
NOAM: Then a route limitation on their content provision rule, if it turns out to be impossible for them to reconcile those two rules. I'm also disturbed about these 900 number games that have been played. That is, telephone companies' common carrier role is one of the strongest arguments for any content rule. Yet, partly for reasons of political pressure, they have been playing games on the 900 numbers, or whatever the state equivalents have been. In New York, for example, we have these adult services downtown, downstate, but upstate we still don't have them, presumably because the sensitivities of upstaters are greater. Those are, I think, totally intolerable situations that shouldn't be permitted.
BERMAN: Over here?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Let me take this discussion down to another level, sort of the crass commercialism of it all. One of the problems when you talk about the 900 services is that you are dealing on two levels. One is sort of the content level, and you can say, in theory, that anything can go over the network. those 900 services, if they are offered by AT&T, are regulated, and if they are offered by another long distance carrier, they could be if you had a commission willing to regulate them. That's half the problem. The other half of the problem is how the person offering the service gets his money. The way the FCC has interpreted the law, billing and collection is a deregulated service because that, in theory, is competitive. Now, in theory, anybody can bill for a service, but it takes lots of time, lots of effort, and lots of money, and small people say, it would be easier for me to do it through the phone company. So the question is, do you have to have more regulation, that is, bring billing and collection back under regulation, in order to preserve diversity of either 900 services or looking forward to video dial tone-type services?
PECK: I think the simple answer to that is we have to have enough factual evidence to indicate that some groups are being excluded by virtue of that. Until we can say that, there is really no case to be made for regulation, if our information is only anecdotal at this point.
NOAM: If indeed you have billing alternatives, then there is really no issue -- nobody should be compelled to provide collection service. To the extent that it's not practical for small casual-type use, then it's different. At that point, it's probably still part of the bundled basic service.
STEVE CISLER: Steve Cisler, Apple Computer. This is a question for Prof. Noam. As you describe these emerging telecommunities, would you give me your thoughts about them -- particularly, do you see them as being perhaps exclusionary, in some sense?
NOAM: Each group almost by definition is exclusionary, so yes, I think that self-definition by a group is one of its important attributes. This, of course, clashes with other issues, such as nondiscrimination on various grounds. So I think there should be some overarching principles against certain membership discrimination that are not acceptable and others that are permissible. In that sense, it's no different from other arrangements. Furthermore, there have to be some basic rules of interconnection from group to group in a technical and operational sense. I don't think those technical issues can be left to self-definition, because otherwise you might have a really Balkanized-type society in terms of telenetworks that do not access each other.
BERMAN: Thank you very much. Because of the time constraints and Bruce Sterling's 12:15 speech, we're going to end the panel now. I want to thank the speakers, thank you very much. (applause)
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