The government must approve all your software

Got this off from Bruce Schneier's blog:

The Federal Communications Commission thinks you have the right to use software on your computer only if the FBI approves.

No, really. In an obscure "policy" document released around 9 p.m. ET last Friday, the FCC announced this remarkable decision.

According to the three-page document, to preserve the openness that characterizes today's Internet, "consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement." Read the last seven words again.

The FCC didn't offer much in the way of clarification. But the clearest reading of the pronouncement is that some unelected bureaucrats at the commission have decreeed that Americans don't have the right to use software such as Skype or PGPfone if it doesn't support mandatory backdoors for wiretapping. (That interpretation was confirmed by an FCC spokesman on Monday, who asked not to be identified by name. Also, the announcement came at the same time as the FCC posted its wiretapping rules for Internet telephony.)

Considering that the Finnish minister of traffic and communications wants to enable massive-scale censorship of the internet... It won't take long before other Finns start talking about more regulation of the internet.

I agree with Kari Haakana: The Internet is not really a medium, and we don't need regulation of it any more than we need regulation of "paper", "radio frequencies" or "discussions in a bar". The internet is like being able to tune in into any discussion anywhere on any bar, street, museum, cafe, or any other public place. There is nothing in our history that has prepared us for this, and a lot of people are now running around a lot, doing lots of handwaving and hoping it will all go away and be controlled. Attempting to filter the internet by force is like trying to tell people to stop talking about certain things whenever they are in a public place. What happens? People move to private homes - on the internet, they move to encrypted, invitation only -channels, which are way more secure than a private home.

Once you start "filtering" the really bad things out of the internet, you have entered a slippery slope, where you start to "filter" other, pettier criminal things too - such as potential copyright infringements. Then you start to filter "wrong opinions". Then you're China. And this is fine as long as you're doing it to yourself. But if ISPs or the government starts regulating what kind of content you can view on the internet - that's bad. Every single limitation to a person's freedom to read, see and hear things must be taken with utmost care and deliberation. In public. With common understanding, that it does not make the thing go away - we just agree it to be a taboo.

Internet filtering will distort our sense of reality, much in the same way as if we moved all hobos outside of the city limits and pretended that they didn't exist. Wouldn't it be much better to go after the source of the problem, and not blame the mouth for cursing, or the paper for blasphemy?


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"Main_blogentry_041205_1" last changed on 05-Dec-2005 00:02:25 EET by JanneJalkanen.