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Volume 59; 2006-2007 • Issue 3

Editor’s Note


Sending Out an S.O.S.: Public Safety Communications Interoperability as a Collective Action Problem
by Jerry Brito

Lack of public safety communications interoperability is the result of what economist Mancur Olson called a collective action problem. In this case, the collective action problem that first responders face is caused by the federal policy of allocating and assigning public safety spectrum in a way that segregates first responders to their own bands and ultimately Balkanizes their radio systems. This Article shows that market forces can be employed to solve collective action problems, and it surveys several successful commercial interoperable communications networks in the U.S. and Europe that are shared by first responders and private customers.

Solving the Interoperability Problem: Are We On the Same Channel? An Essay on the Problems and Prospects for Public Safety Radio
by Gerald R. Faulhaber

A number of disasters over the last two decades have demonstrated the dire consequences that occur when first responders are unable to communicate due to interoperability of their communications equipment. Each such disaster is followed by a strong reaction from the Federal government, promising immediate action, often with plans to deploy the latest technology. In fact, nothing has ever actually happened at the Federal level to solve first responders’ interoperability problem. As I show using a case study from Delaware, states have stepped into the breach and provided fully interoperable systems using technology that is twenty years old. While the Federal government has made much political noise about the problem and its role in fixing it, it is the states that are quietly getting the job done.

Fundamental Reform in Public Safety Communications Policy
by Jon M. Peha

The communications systems used by first responders in the U.S. are inadequate, primarily because of outdated and ineffective public policy. Fundamental reform is needed, and the upcoming digital TV transition provides an outstanding opportunity. This Article describes options available to policymakers, if they act soon.

Communicating During Emergencies: Toward Interoperability and Effective Information Management
by Philip J. Weiser

To change the culture and realities of public safety communications, this Article calls on policymakers to develop a new architecture for the use of information and communications technologies and provide a framework for leadership to transition to a next generation system for public safety communications. Such a culture change would include not only an embrace of new technologies, but a new framework for technology leadership-at the state or regional level-that spurs decision making in a coordinated fashion (and not through ad hoc decisions by over 50,000 different local agencies). In short, this Article explains what new technologies can transform public safety communications and what intergovernmental relations strategy will be necessary to facilitate the implementation of such technologies.

Keeping the Internet Neutral?: Tim Wu and Christopher Yoo Debate
by Tim Wu & Christopher S. Yoo

“Net neutrality” has been among the leading issues of telecommunications policy this decade. Is the neutrality of the Internet fundamental to its success, and worth regulating to protect, or simply a technical design subject to improvement? In this debate-form commentary, Tim Wu and Christopher Yoo make clear the connection between net neutrality and broader issues of national telecommunications policy.


A Soldier’s Blog: Balancing Service Members’ Personal Rights vs. National Security Interests
by Tatum H. Lytle

This Note examines the competing interests between ensuring military personnel’s freedom of speech while protecting national security interests. The Author recognizes the necessity of protecting national security interests but emphasizes that military personnel’s rights to free speech must be protected as long as such speech poses no threat to military security. In conclusion, clearer protections must be implemented to protect military personnel’s right to free speech.

Book Review

Who Controls the Internet? A Review
by Deborah J. Salons

Ms. Salons reviews Who Controls the Internet? Illusions of a Borderless World, Oxford University Press, 2006. Authored by Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu, the book provides a history of the Internet and analyzes the nexus between globalization and government coercion. The book focuses on how these agents have shaped and developed the Internet as we are familiar with it today.


Keeping the Internet Neutral?: A Reponse to the Wu-Yoo Debate
by Rob Frieden

Still Preoccupied with Competitors and Forgetting End Users: A Response to the Network Neutrality Debate of Tim Wu and Christopher Yoo
by Barbara A. Cherry

Moving Slowly in the Fast Lane: A Comment in Response to Profs. Wu and Yoo
by Susan P. Crawford