From the EFF's BPDG blog -- Hollings: Broadcast Flag Now, By FCC Mandate:
EFF was advised that Sen. Ernest Hollings has written a letter to the FCC advocating immediate implementation of a broadcast flag mandate -- even without additional legislation. Hollings apparently claimed that the FCC already has, under existing statutes, the authority necessary to require that all manufacturers comply with BPDG rules.
The BPDG "process" has been rife with acrimony, arbitrariness and confusion, to an extent that cannot be fully ascribed to mere haste. EFF believes that the failings of the BPDG process stem directly from BPDG's efforts to cloak a inter-industry horse-trading exercise in the trappings of a public undertaking, with nominal participation from all "affected industries." In reality, the representatives were hand-picked by the conveners of the BPDG to minimize any dissent, as is evidenced by the high degree of similarity between the original proposal brought to the group by its conveners and the final report that the co-chairs unilaterally present herein as the group's findings.
Throughout the process, the absence of any formal charter or process afforded the co-chairs the opportunity to manipulate the rules of the group to suit their true purpose while maintaining its illusory openness, as when the scope of the group's discussions was summarily expanded to encompass all unauthorized redistribution of feature films, as opposed to unauthorized redistribution over the Internet.
Cory Doctorow has written an editorial for tha SJ Mercury News that provides the best explanation I've seen so far at what the hell is going on with this BPDG thing:
Hollywood wants a stranglehold on your digital technology.
The people who fought tooth and nail to keep VCRs off the market will have a veto over all new digital television devices, including digital television devices that interface with personal computers. The next generation of home entertainment systems will include only features that don't inspire Hollywood's dread of infringing uses, no matter what the consequences for you, the owner of the device. With today's VCR, you can record an episode of "The Simpsons'' and bring it over to a friend's house to watch. This "feature'' won't be included on the digital VCRs and DVD recorders of tomorrow until and unless Hollywood executives decide you deserve it -- until they decide that the technical means of allowing neighbor-to-neighbor sharing of video won't open the gate to the Internet piracy bogyman.
The BPDG is a coalition of Hollywood studios and technology companies that are ready to control our technological future, in the name of digital television, if you let them.
How might they control our technological future? By insisting upon airy fairy "standards" that can only be complied with via business deals when the entertainment monopolies decide that the price is right.