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After weeks of speculation, it now appears certain that President Obama will nominate Thomas Wheeler to replace Julius Genachowski as Chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to serve as acting until Wheeler's nomination gets confirmed by the Senate.
Like the internet before it, 3D printing has the potential to be a revolutionary, disruptive technology. Because it allows people to create, copy, and modify physical objects in digital files, it will provoke conversations that redefine intellectual property.
Public Knowledge has been working at this intersection of 3D printing and issues like copyright and patent policy, making sure that large incumbents embrace 3D printing as an opportunity instead of reacting to it as a threat.
That’s why we’re hosting the second 3D/DC in the Rayburn House Office Building tomorrow. We want to make sure that the voices of 3D printing innovators are heard in Washington.
The First Amendment and the principles of free expression are fundamental to the proper functioning of our society and they are a bedrock of the law. The fact that this sentiment is well-worn to the point of cliche doesn't make it any less true. Speech and other expressive conduct must be protected, even when it's bad speech, and even when the short-term consequences of allowing it seem bad too--because the consequences of having the government decide what kinds of speech are acceptable and what kinds of speech are not are even worse.
But the importance of free expression has unfortunately provided some telecom companies with rhetorical cover in their attempt to avoid all oversight, and with aid and comfort from some in the judiciary, they've attempted to characterize business activities that are not expressive as "speech" and to enlist the Bill of Rights in the battle against consumer interests.
Last week, Rep. Steve Israel introduced a bill designed to regulate firearms that cannot be found by metal detectors. The bill makes a passing reference the 3D printing, which is fine. But the rhetoric that Rep. Israel is using to promote the bill is both muddled and overblown, and focuses almost exclusively on 3D printing. This is a problem.
As part of the bill introduction process, Rep. Israel circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter to his fellow Members of Congress asking them to co-sponsor the legislation. The title of the letter? “Co-Sponsor Legislation to Ban 3D Printed Guns”
This is a guest blog post by Jon Peha. Peha is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, an electrical engineer, the former Chief Technologist of the FCC, and the former Assistant Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The Associated Press reported that cell phone service had been shut down in Boston in the aftermath of today’s tragic Boston Marathon bombing. Happily, this report — sourced to an anonymous official — appears to be mistaken. Verizon and Sprint report that their networks are overwhelmed by the sudden spike in volume (common after a sudden disaster) but they have not been asked to suspend service and are in fact looking to increase capacity.
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