Going To War With Ma Bell

Dear Ma Bell,

You and I are old friends from way back when. We first met during a time when people were taught to let the phone ring at least six times before hanging up. Six times, can you imagine that. Sure you can, you may be a cranky old bitch but you can remember the days when no one had answering machines or voicemail. There weren’t any cellphones and our friend Al Gore hadn’t invented that crazy thing called the Internet. Back then I never conceived of writing you a letter on a computer. Letters were something that you wrote with a pen and paper.

Ah it makes me choke up, these misty water colored memories. Or maybe it is eating crackers without water that makes me choke up, not that it matters. But what does matter is that I want to back hand you write across your hairy lip you cranky old bitch. I know, it is not ever acceptable to hit a woman but since you are not really a woman I can take artistic license and say that I want to punch you in the throat.

You see the source of my frustration is your inability to service me in the way that I require. Wipe that stupid grin off of your face and look in my eyes. They aren’t smiling. If you were here I’d go Three Stooges on your incompetent ass and poke you in the eyes. I pay you good money for a high speed internet connection that keeps going out on me and no one can explain why.  The lack of explanation isn’t the sole source of my frustration either. I hate dealing with your customer service department. The last three times I called I was connected with people who don’t speak English very well.

That is not just unfair to me but to them. I called because I need help and am frustrated. When I can’t understand them I grow more frustrated and do my best not to heap abuse on them. They don’t need or deserve it, but at that moment they are the face of your company and the focus of my ire.

You are a big company that plays in the grown up pool. You aren’t some rookie in the minor leagues, this is the goddamn show and they throw serious heat up here. You put that fastball across the plate anywhere close to waist high and I am going to send it screaming past your ear towards center field. If this were the NBA you would consider yourself posterized because I just jumped over a truck, did a 360, double clutched and tomahawked the rock down your throat. So now that I have throw down the testosterone laden gauntlet I ask you to cowboy up and help me fix this.

I am so sick of the connection dying in the middle of whatever I am doing. This is serious ma. This is business. This Internet connection helps me to put food on the table. I am not pissed off because the online skin flick keeps buffering. I am upset because in the middle of video conferences things get hung up and it negatively impacts my work.

So suck it up, figure out how to get some people who can speak English and are trained to deal with the issues we have. And don’t get slick and give me some high school kid who has a script and a technical flowchart for diagnosing difficulties. I am not Grandma Gertie who decided at the ripe old age of 96 to learn how to use a computer. Fix your damn system and take care of your business.

Internet Privacy Issues

I am very concerned about taking measures to protect society and children in general, but this is problematic. Once we start giving up civil liberties they become very hard to get back and that is part of how I see this.

Information can be used in a variety of ways and once this is collected I wonder what is going to happen with it.

Two bills have been introduced so far–S.436 in the Senate and H.R.1076 in the House. Each of the companion bills is titled “Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today’s Youth Act,” or Internet Safety Act.

Each contains the same language: “A provider of an electronic communication service or remote computing service shall retain for a period of at least two years all records or other information pertaining to the identity of a user of a temporarily assigned network address the service assigns to that user.”

Translated, the Internet Safety Act applies not just to AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and so on–but also to the tens of millions of homes with Wi-Fi access points or wired routers that use the standard method of dynamically assigning temporary addresses. (That method is called Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, or DHCP.)

“Everyone has to keep such information,” says Albert Gidari, a partner at the Perkins Coie law firm in Seattle who specializes in this area of electronic privacy law.

The legal definition of electronic communication service is “any service which provides to users thereof the ability to send or receive wire or electronic communications.” The U.S. Justice Department’s position is that any service “that provides others with means of communicating electronically” qualifies.

That sweeps in not just public Wi-Fi access points, but password-protected ones too, and applies to individuals, small businesses, large corporations, libraries, schools, universities, and even government agencies. Voice over IP services may be covered too.

Under the Internet Safety Act, all of those would have to keep logs for at least two years. It “covers every employer that uses DHCP for its network,” Gidari said. “It covers Aircell on airplanes– hose little pico cells will have to store a lot of data for those in-the-air Internet users.”