(for the full article)
Indie ISPs Fight for Survival (exerpted for posting)
By Michelle Delio | Page 1 of 2 next »
02:00 AM Apr. 26, 2003 PT
BALTIMORE -- Internet service providers are under attack -- not by malicious hackers but, they say, by the U.S government and big business.
The Federal Communications Commission and Congress have proposed new rules that could put almost every ISP out of business in the next year, according to Bruce Kushnick, chairman of TeleTruth, an ISP advocacy organization.
If they don't fight for their right to exist, independent ISPs soon will be replaced by huge cable television and telephone companies supported by misguided FCC regulations, according to Kushnick, who addressed an audience Friday at ISPCON, an annual gathering for Internet service providers.
Extinction is not the only trouble bedeviling ISPs. Owners and workers say they are being forced to turn into Net nannies, cops and snoops by the cavalcade of anti-terrorist and copyright-protection legislation that's been passed in the last two years.
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One piece of legislation that continues to confuse ISPs is the Patriot Act, passed by Congress on Oct. 24, 2001. The act spells out ways the U.S. government can monitor communications in order to stop terrorism.
"I've had two years to read through the 1,016 sections in Patriot and so far I've gotten through and understood maybe a couple of dozen pages," confessed "Joe," the owner of a small ISP with 3,700 users. He asked that his last name be withheld.
"But as I've been told this week, any employee of the federal executive branch can contact me and force me to provide access to the electronic communications of any of my customers who may have information relevant to any federal case," Joe said. "And anyone who owns a copyright on anything can also demand info about my users.
"So I've essentially been turned into a rat spy. It used to be fun to run an ISP. Now it's all regulations, legal issues and new hidden hassles. Just like the Internet itself, I guess."