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User Journal

Journal Journal: Reach out and punch somebody

I read about the world today (the tech world, at least), and all I want to do is reach out and punch somebody. Actually, numerous people, who I will not name here (although some you can guess, others I just don't know).
Up first, we have the DMCA. Gotta love the fact that it covers things like:
  • novelty singing fish
  • refrigerators
  • baby monitors
  • toy cash registers/toilet training toys
  • hearing aids

among other things. While it's doubtful that any of those devices will ever arise in a DMCA violation, it's laughable how far-reaching the law is.
Without going into the deeper reasons the DMCA is a bad thing, which most /. readers have seem reiterated time and time again, I will move on to the next thing I want to punch someone over.

Up next we have various representatives of the Voice Of Webcasters (VoW) and the RIAA, for changing HR 5469 from a one-paragraph stay of CARP fees (that was endorsed strongly by the small-time webcasters, into a 30 page monstrosity that saves the larger 'casters affected while still leaving the small-time ones in the same position as before. Except now those that the revised HR 5469 helps are now saying CARP isn't a bad thing.

Then, of course, there's the ubitiquous Microsoft beating. First they rip of Apple's 'Switch' ads, but don't even bother using a real person (well, apparently it's a real person, although the photograph was blantly used from a stock picture archive. Cheaped out too, it was a free photo). Historically, Microsoft has 'borrowed' innovations from Apple when developing it's desktop, now apparently 'embrace and extend' applies to ads too. And it doesn't end there, there's always Palladium looming over our heads. Not much new to report on that front, although I do recommend reading Questions for a Lecture on Microsoft's Palladium? for a general view, and then my comments (questions). Along with that, we have Intel for announcing it'll be including hardware DRM, and a few weeks back AMD announced it will start doing it too. Almost makes it tempting to start using a Mac, at least until Apple announces it will follow suit.

Moving away from tech stuff for a bit, I feel Pres. Bush deserves a nice left hook, for his stance on Iraq. First, he demands that Iraq allow unconditionally allow the return of weapon inspectors. Iraq agrees, Bush accuses them of lying. What does this man want? Given his move to get Congressional support for military action, apparently he only asks for those things to appease our allies. He's got his mind set on a 'regime change' in Iraq, despite a CIA report that Iraq is not the biggest threat. To paraphrase someone's sig here, "When did 'war on terrorism' become a euphemism for 'settle old scores'?".

Lastly (for now), we have anyone who is still using 9/11 as an excuse for anything. Particularly those who are trying to sell something by using people's feelings about it. Fake patriatism, good shallow America. I live in Hoboken, NJ, I'm about 2 or 3 miles away from the WTC site, I saw it all on that horrific day. But I've moved on, everyone else I know has moved on, except advertising departments, it seems. It makes me sick to see 9/11 being used to sell things, or try and influence people.

And with that, I stop for the time being.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Internet Censorship

A Pennsylvania state judge ruled today the UUNet had to block access to 5 web sites. Granted, they were child porn sites, but the bigger issue here is the ease at which censorship can be imposed, and the inability on the part of those affected to effectively fight back against injustice.
First, keep in mind that I do not like child porn sites. I suppose it's a start that action is being taken against them, but this is clearly the wrong way to go about it.

Here's a question to think about - if there's a stretch of highway on which people like to race, and there are frequently accidents along that stretch, is the DOT supposed to close the road? People wouldn't stand for that. It's not the DOT's fault that people misuse the road. And it's certainly not the fault of an ISP that it's customers use their service to break the law. The ISP has done nothing wrong, just as the DOT did nothing wrong in the example I made above.

Censorship, in any form, is a violation of freedom. As soon as I can only see what I've been expressly granted permission to see, I can no longer trust those things that I can see. It's only a matter of time before other states pass laws that give the Assembly the power to censor a site. That would be the end of the Internet as the last independant news source, since there's no doubt that the censorship system would be ineptly managed (like nearly every over state agency, in any stat) and exploited for personal gain. During election time, incumbents could censor the web sites of their opponents. Any site which posts negative stories about the candidate (even if they are true) could be censored.

The scary part of this case is the total absence of any kind of oversight. Sites are being shut down on the whim of a single man, who wasn't even elected to his position. Some say this makes him more impartial to politics, but I think it makes him more susceptible to being 'bought'. It's a lot easier to act on the behalf of someone giving you money when you never have to worry about what the public thinks. A judge can't be removed just because people don't like him.

There's been a recent uproar about China's internet filtering. With the upcoming elections in China, the government is blocking access to web sites and searches for "politically sensitive" topics. It's called the Great Firewall, and the argument has been made that it's about as low as a government can go in restricting access to information. It's my feeling that it's only a matter of time until we start seeing such a thing (on a lesser scale) here in America.

Like I said before, I don't like the fact that there's child porn on the Internet. But the way to take action is to prosecute the owners of these sites, not to block access to them. There's no mention of whether or not the sites being blocked are foreign or domestic. If it's a foreign site, it's not our reponsibility to do anything about, except make the appropriate authorities in whatever country aware of it. And if it's in a country where such things aren't illegal, then we should not take it upon ourselves to the the Internet Police for the world. We're only going to make enemies that way, and stir up more anti-American sentiment in those countries.

Keep up the good work, America, the "land of the free".

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