8.3 The code layer

At the code layer, Microsoft has released Windows 7 (and Windows Vista prior to that) and is working on the next generation of its operating system, ‘Windows 7’. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US has ruled that cable companies are not telecommunications companies and are therefore not required to provide open access to their networks in the way that the phone companies in the US are obliged to do. The FCC has also declared that all consumer electronic devices capable of receiving digital TV signals must have ‘broadcast flag’ copy protection built in by the summer of 2005. A coalition of groups led by the American Library Association challenged this decision through the courts and in May 2005 the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit unanimously ruled that the FCC had no authority to mandate a broadcast flag. There have been various efforts since then to introduce the requirement for a broadcast flag into law, for example as part of the Communications, Consumer's Choice, and Broadband Deployment bill of 2006, though the bill was not passed in the end. Companies like Microsoft and IBM have been working on new internet protocols through standards bodies like the World Wide Web Consortium, W3C. In Europe, a hugely complex set of developments on internet surveillance and data retention to facilitate law enforcement and the combatting of terrorism is ongoing. The US Department of Justice, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration have also requested and been granted (in August 2004) new internet surveillance powers. Following the attacks of 11 September 2001, the Bush administration more generally facilitated widespread telephone and internet surveillance without warrants. President Obama may change some of those activities.

8.2 The physical layer

8.4 The content layer