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Regulation by Architecture 31

Posted by michael
from the little-brother-is-watching dept.
Erasei writes: "With all of the goverments around the world trying harder and harder to regulate what their citizens do on the net, this article has some interesting ideas. While the text was written in 1998, points like the one made here are still interesting: The extent to which the surveillance capacity of cyberspace is limited, and where permitted made controllable by user choice, is perhaps the single key issue in the regulation of cyberspace." This is a very insightful article, despite its age (I'd read it before, but it bears repeating). This article, and Lessig's work generally, puts the lie to the myth that the internet cannot be regulated. Coincidentally, there's an article on this same subject in the NYTimes today. Discusses how the structure of online sites affects the discussion that occurs there. Good reading.
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Regulation by Architecture

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Could somebody just write a summary to this long article?

    By the way I have here [founderscamp.com] a news item which mentions of technology that promises to establish national borders on the Net. Well that could be one way of cyber-control.

  • There are many different issues that involve the term 'regulation', and the decision as to whether it is a good idea or not is going to depend on the specific issue.

    Is it a good idea to regulate the distribution of child pornography on the internet? For this the answer is universally yes.

    Is it a good idea to regulate the distribution of Mein Kampf? At least in the US it violates our 1st amendment, but in other countries it would be a violation to not regulate it.

    It's a very complex issue, and just saying 'no regulation at all' won't get you far. I think this was one of Lessig's points last year.

  • Actually that's one of the more insightful posts I've seen on slashdot in a long time.

    But I think what was most interesting was the Microsoft comment at the bottom. This must be some sort of proof by example.

    One could also call it karma whoring. You didn't think the rest of your article carried any weight, so you threw in a anti-Microsoft attack hoping that the polarized community of slashdot would see that and go "Ohhhh, he's insightful!" and mod you up.

  • Yes, I've come to the conclusion that the proper classification of humans is not actually as a mammal. The proper classification is as a parasite, a disease. Mammals live in balance with their environment, but parasites use up all the resources of a place and then move on.
  • Reality is beginning to creep in on cyberspace. How can we be surprized about this.

    Cyberspace is concensual. Not democratic, not authoritarian but concensual. It exists but it is a direct reflection of its virtual inhabitant.

    Face it. Pogo was right: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

    Both utopia (a paradox is ever there was one,) and distopia (the same paradox in reverse,) will find limited existence there.

    Bet on limited chaos but be aware that history courses are litanies of faded civilizations and vanished ones.

    The same medium is being used to transmit porn and Taliban edicts against wome showing themselves in public (at all!)

    Its just that the absurdity of the cacophony is becoming hard to avoid. Its all based on an economy of scarcety.

    For the entire realm of data (or even information, and perhaps knowledge,) having essentially infinite bandwidth, a cpu cycle being so cheap as to be essentially unmeasurable and storage capacity doubling even faster than Moore's Law flies in the face of that ethos. We are creatures of information.

    God (yet another paradox,) is telling people through his annointed and illuminated emmisaries, to love one and other but to kill those people in the neighboring valley because they're different (they're too tall, short, pale, tanned, hairy, short, don't or do wear hats,) and therefore evil.

    RIAA and MPAA, who produce no content what-so-ever, are in control of the transmission and therefore the production of music and motion pictures. But don't ask them to carry a tune because they'll charge you for the privilege of proving they're tone-deaf and unimaginative.

    Terrorism isn't as effective as dentistry at scaring the crap out of people.

    And Leibnitz can now be generalized to: "The power of &lt whatever &gt belongs to those who own one."
  • Historically before the age of universal education and cheap mass distribution, cultural lore was a stronger basis for "regulating" society than any single dictate. For example, the role of the church in the Middle Ages was definitely (if not deliberately) a mechanism for keeping the peasants under control. For example, if you were feamle and unmarried by a certain age, you could be chastised by shaving your head, wearing a straw plait and being placed outside church gates to be mocked. The power of such social persistence is shown by reflections in the modern world many centuries after the fact that surplus land has ceased to be a major economic factor (as cf retail) by the fact that there are still customs in germany where if you reach 30, your friends drag you outside to the burgher's office (mayor) and you have to stand around until kissed by a virgin of opposite gender! By this standard, a code release every 6 months hardly stacks up :-).

    The point I'm trying to make is that every sub-culture has their norms, or alternatively signals which members can recognised each other. ESR points out that hackers in fact do recognised property rights in that they wait for a period when a project has become inactive (abandonment) before forking/refactoring it (with permission of original author if possible). While professions have been built around a single concept, the doctor's Hippocratic Oath, the lawyer's client-attorney priviledge, the Church's core belief in the divinity of XYZ. Each group has strong social punishments for transgression ranging from excommunication to disbarment.

    The question for hackers is not which laws or even code can encourage a suitably civilised level of behaviour. One of the West's great triumps is our judicial system which has some very fine granualities, having shifted over the centuries from retributive measures (eye for eye) to punitive (fine) or corrective (community service, etc). What is the computer equivalent of breaking ettiquette (spamming on newsgroup) or undesired economic conduct (spamming)? Denial of service is a rather extreme measure and blacklists tend to be rather heavy handded. Unless you count legal "polite" injunctions, there is a lack of suitable incentives or mild mental refactoring. For example, clubs often have black-balling (where existing members can vote against undesired candidates) but due to the GPL, Linux has no way of white-balling (snow-balling for YuX :-)) people/companies who abuse the concept. USENET can cut off feeds but a system designed to be viral and self-contained retransmission is not exactly a mechanisms to encourage exclusion (as a punishment). In reality, hackers make up too small a segment of the population (developers aside) to exert market force and moral rights (another nifty feature of Australian legistlation) where the architecture (of a web-site) has some say in the long-term design use is not recognised globally.

    While it is difficult to "force" a single socio-economic stand onto everyone (cough*.NET*cough) people do need to evolve protective and predictive mechanisms (e.g. IETF RFC) just to function. Transgression against such social norms also needs to be discouraged or at least tolerated if self-contained/self-controlled. Law is only the formal recognition of any such cultural lore (some would claim ossification) and preempting it with half-baked code without understanding the philosophical (cough*RMScough) or social norms is a recipe for mental disconnects (and resulting flouting of said-code/law).

    LL
  • Biggest single mistake: All e-mail should have been encrypted by default.

    That wasn't a mistake, that was exactly what the US government wanted. Even though the blatantly unconstitutional export restrictions are now mostly gone, they achieved their primary goal of preventing encryption from becoming standard in Internet communications. Because of the desire of our government to easily spy on its citizens, the Internet is substantially less secure than it should be.

  • by selectspec (74651) on Saturday June 02, 2001 @07:26AM (#182148)
    Imagin a society where the governing officials were just teenaged idiots whose only job was to admin a few Linux boxes runing perl and mysql. The people submit propositions to the LegaslatureSlashCode, and those that get mod'd up are passed as law. Certain "privilledged" citizens who've been respected by their peers (and had laws mod'd up) get bonus points. All citizens meta-moderate the law moderation in order to curb out the unwanted moderators. We would call this society... FUDland.
  • While I found the New York Times article interesting, it's still the same old story of Chicken Little screaming that the sky is falling. The article points out that people gravitate towards other people with the same views on the Internet. And this doesn't happen in meatspace?

    I think the article gives short shrift to the fact that accessing opposing viewpoints is only a click away. In times past one would have to travel to the nearest newsstand and buy a rag of some sort. Anyone not willing to do that (i.e., most everybody) was at the mercy of what their cohorts reported secondhand (or worse).

  • The article calls itself a "note." What the hell kind of note is fifty pages long?
  • He went to the wrong site. He should try Kuro5hin [kuro5hin.org], which has a superior moderation system and new stories once in a blue moon. Which I believe is a healthy thing for great discussion. When everybody can moderate, there isn't so much bad moderation either.

    - Steeltoe
  • sorry about the lack of line breaks, here is a plain old text verson

    AN ENDNOTE ON REGULATING CYBERSPACE:
    ARCHITECTURE VS LAW?
    We need some King Canutes in cyberspace[3].
    There is relatively little writing about a general theoretical structure for the regulation of cyberspace. II. THE EVOLVING NATURE OF CYBERSPACE

    The Internet and property in information were widely believed to be incompatible, and technology would win against law and set information free.
    - A Dystopian View of Cyberspace
    In contrast with the digital libertarians is a view of cyberspace which emphasises the likely extent of identification and surveillance in cyberspace, and its potential for misuse.
    (i) The Pervasiveness of Cyberspace
    (iii) Identity and Digital Personae
    (iv) Identification at the Cyberspace / Real Space Interface
    Identification occurs at the cyberspace / real space interface.
    (v) An Encrypted Space - Public Key Infrastructure
    III. THEORIES OF CYBERSPACE REGULATION - DIGITAL REALISM NEEDED
    A more comprehensive theoretical approach to cyberspace regulation is advanced by Lawrence Lessig in a number of articles[29]. The `old' Chicago School's anti-law analysis emphasised the effectiveness (in contrast with law) of both markets and social norms as regulators of individual behaviour, and how both markets and norms were relatively impervious to control by law. In summary, these anti-law approaches emphasise the effectiveness of the three other types of constraint -- markets, norms, and `nature'/'architecture' -- at the expense of law.
    Digital libertarianism's arguments - that law is destined to be ineffective in cyberspace - are often a particular application of `anti-law' arguments to the new frontier of cyberspace, which to a large extent borrows from the earlier anti-law streams. Both versions see little positive role for law in cyberspace regulation, and that is where Lessig (and Boyle) are correct in differing from them. The rest of this Note supports the view that to understand the control (de facto and de jure) of cyberspace architecture is the key to understanding the regulation of cyberspace.

    IV. CYBERSPACE REGULATION AS A FUNCTION OF FOUR CONSTRAINTS
    A. Norms, Morality and Self-Regulation
    In cyberspace norms play similar roles, and some special ones. Markets constrain behaviours in obvious ways in real space, influenced by property, contract and other laws which regulate those markets. The market constraints in cyberspace are as important as in real space. Unpopular code/architecture can perish where market forces operate. We don't need a law on larceny of real property.
    D. Law - Direct and Indirect Regulation
    Law typically regulates individual behaviour directly, and does so by threatening ex post facto sanctions. However, in real space as well as cyberspace, law also regulates individual behaviour indirectly, by aiming to change markets, norms or code. As others have done in different contexts, Lessig argues[39] that the anti-law Chicago School is misleading in that it assumes that the other constraints - markets, norms and code/architecture - are independent of law, but in fact they are in part a product of the law. We have to ask to what extent a particular constraint is created by law, and to what extent it can be changed by law. As will be illustrated later in this paper, law in cyberspace will often be more effective if it regulates code/architecture rather than trying to directly regulate individual behaviour.

    V. FIVE FEATURES OF CYBERSPACE ARCHITECTURE AS REGULATION
    A. Architecture is More than Software
    Lessig's characterisation of code as software ("code, or the software that makes cyberspace as it is") is an oversimplification. Protocols are code developed by participatory processes particular to the Internet, and are of vital importance as non-proprietary code.
    B. Architecture has Immediacy as a Constraint
    Real space architecture typically regulates more directly than law, which threatens punishment after the breach. Cyberspace architecture is often self-executing (for example, passwords and other forms of access controls), but not necessarily so.

    Plasticity is a major variable in the extent to which law can regulate a constraint, with more plastic constraints more susceptible to change by law. Recognition of the significance of cyberspace architecture as regulation forces us to look to its origins. Control of cyberspace architecture is at present highly fragmented. As mentioned earlier, Boyle argues that digital libertarians have underestimated the extent to which both private power and governments already determine the architecture of cyberspace. More often, intermediaries such as system operators or Internet Service Providers (ISPs) exercise significant controls over what is and is not possible by individual users.
    E. Default Settings Give Regulation by Default
    The importance of the default settings in various forms of cyberspace architecture has not yet received sufficient emphasis.
    VI. REGULATION BY AND OF CYBERSPACE ARCHITECTURE - ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLES
    Having set out this sketch of a theoretical approach to regulation of cyberspace, the rest of this paper puts forward a number of examples which illustrate both differing aspects of how architecture regulates cyberspace, how cyberspace architecture is already regulated by law, and the regulatory choices that such an analysis can reveal. The work of Lessig, Boyle and Reidenberg provides extensive examples of architecture and its regulation in US law, often with a focus on content regulation and intellectual property. The examples following are drawn from universal Internet technical features, from Australian legislation, and from the German `Multimedia Law'[49], one of the most extensive European attempts to regulate cyberspace architecture by law.

    A. Building Anonymity into Architecture
    The extent to which the surveillance capacity of cyberspace is limited, and where permitted made controllable by user choice, is perhaps the single key issue in the regulation of cyberspace.
    In Australia the `anonymity principle' has been making progress toward becoming a legal requirement of cyberspace architecture. Cookies are an element of Internet protocols, server software and browser software which allow information to be placed on, and retrieved from, the user's hard disk during browsing of websites. Cookies are one of the most significant methods of surveillance of user browsing behaviour on the Internet. Default cookies settings in Netscape Communicator 4.01 (1997)
    Regulation of the code of cookies presents similar policy choices.
    D. Spam Black Holes - Is Law Safe for `Return To Sender' Architecture?
    web users to specify their expectations concerning personal data disclosure practices; and
    P3P allows web users to have multiple digital pseudonyms (and therefore multiple digital personae), allowing a user to choose between a `data-poor' or `data rich' personality depending on the site visited[77].
    P3P is therefore an instance of where law is necessary to make protections offered by cyberspace architecture meaningful.
    F. Stopping Searching - Robot Exclusion Standards
    Web spiders and Internet search engines pose issues for copyright and privacy policies.
    The architecture of ECMS need not observe any of the public interest limitations built in to copyright law . If `code contracts' replace law, these are not necessarily the same as `law contracts', and may not be in the public interest.
    This blueprint for the code in which intellectual property transactions will operate in cyberspace could hardly be more different than the real space code in which IP operates at present, and as regulation this code shares few similarities with IP law. Propagate is principally about the development of cyberspace code - at both the standards and software levels - for digital transactions[98].
    H. Copyright Circumvention Devices - Protecting Architecture>



    ___
  • Biggest single mistake: All e-mail should have been encrypted by default.

    Dave Farber was pushing for this in the late 1980s. Didn't happen. And it should have.

  • an interesting discussion [quorum.org] started by Scott Reents (an online activist interviewed here [slashdot.org] on slashdot last year). It asks the question, "Does anyone out there feel the Internet is narrowing your worldview?"
  • by e_lehman (143896) on Saturday June 02, 2001 @05:10AM (#182155)

    From the New York Times article:

    On other sites, a group of regular users rank the value of contributions, and the rankings then determines their place on the "bulletin board." How well that works, however, is an open question. When Mr. Sunstein tried to intervene in a discussion of his own book on a techie Web site called slashdot.org, his contribution was given a very low ranking. "I think maybe they didn't believe I was the author of the book," he said.

    I looked up this posting. His post number was something like 171/178. Funny that the guy wrote a book about this kinda stuff, but doesn't have the first clue about getting modded up: POST EARLY!!!

  • by wytcld (179112) on Saturday June 02, 2001 @07:18AM (#182156) Homepage
    In the current Nation [thenation.com] an article by Eric Foner [thenation.com] describes how the just-elected conservative government of Berlusconi in Italy - the first to include lineal descendants of the Fascist party since the war - won by using slogans of "freedom" borrowed from Bushies ... which is about like Microsoft borrowing ".Net" and "innovation".

    We should ask, who is the real constituency of freedom, and how do we, if we are members of that group, preserve the good name of freedom from being co-opted by essentially fascist forces selling the idea that true freedom is just the freedom to be entertained by their media (Berlusconi, the richest man in Italy, owns television networks and a soccer team), while burning their oil (Bush's biggest contributor has been Enron) and eating their GM food?

    First, we should recognize who the real constituency is. For example, trades which require personal freedom in order to be performed well produce more than their share of true advocates - music, visual arts, some varieties of programming, and even once-upon-a-time cattle ranching (which is why Bush baby poses as a rancher) - "don't fence me in." And we should add to this group the other staple of the frontier, the dance hall woman/sex worker.

    Now, it's not hard to see that, even in our most sophisticated cities, it's easy for politicians to get a significant section of the population worked up about the danger of all these libertine sorts, trying to lure their children into museums and libraries and other places of idleness, off the assembly line of birth-school-marriage-work-death. And it's not too hard to find examples of, for instance, artists with destroyed lives attributable to their flirtation with serious freedoms - their sometimes desparate hunger for degrees of freedom and inspiration which can be fleeting and evasive.

    To prevent freedom, it's technologies - particularly the psychotropic - are severely restricted. Back when radio was briefly free, in the late 60's, the broad public fears of such technologies were eased by the great and obvious beauty of the musics produced by artists whose minds were made freer by, and whose work celebrated, these means. Hoping for a revival of free and inspired musics seems polyannish at this point, after even mp3.com has gone down in cynical grovelling.

    It's easy to see how Brand and Barlow, producers of the 60s psychotropic culture, fastened on the liberatory potential of computers and networking. And how programmers, being for the most part young, dependent on their creativity, and with one unfortunate exception without real power, appreciated what freedom could do for them.

    But where do we go now? The fascists, having co-opted "freedom" to their ideology, can't easily disown the positive valuation of the term - if we can but wrest its meaning back it can be a powerful trojan. But how do we define freedom with such care that the concept doesn't seem to sanction a corrupt mobster like Berlusconi or Gates??

  • Several thoughts come to mind.

    While the example of King Canute trying to order the tides to stop is an example of the overwhelming power of nature, perhaps this example is not entirely appropriate. Certainly the conclusions are not shared.

    Humans as a force of nature have a certain capacity to muck up nature. Easy examples are areas where humans have lived for a while.

    Evidence now suggests that Iceland was well forested when first discovered. The same applies to Easter Island. Both are devoid of trees now. In the Middle East we have from classical literature and the Bible mentions of the Trees of Lebanon, specimens of which are said to have been used for some of the pillars in the temple of King Solomon. Obviously, the region used to be well forested, and now it is not. (Isreal has a long term reforestation program in place). Similarly, the deserts of Iraq all used to be well forested, rich in plant and animal life. The removal of trees changed the climate. We now have a desert. I wonder how much of the Sahara desert is based purely on climate change, and how much climate change was human caused. The Sahara, too, was forested 10 to 15 thousand years ago.

    In the Middle East, part of this was a certain type of political warfare. One of old religions there worshipped the trees, among other things. One of their competitors did not, and took to things like building homes out of wood. This went hand in hand with certain like the introduction of goats, etc.

    so the point of this is that people in their short sightedness do things that are destructive to the things the like and want to preserve. Part of the problem here is the quantity of people who move in, so that by the time things are figured out, it is too late. If they figure it out at all.

    Looking at the example in the NY Times article:

    On the conservative Web site "FreeRepublic.com," the discussion began by referring relatively mildly to Mr. Sunstein's book about the political consequences of the Internet as "thinly veiled liberal." But as the discussion picked up steam, the rhetoric of the respondents, who insisted that they had not and would not read the book itself, became more heated. Eventually, they were referring to Mr. Sunstein as "a nazi" and a "pointy headed socialist windbag."

    The discussion illustrated the phenomenon that Mr. Sunstein and various social scientists have called "group polarization" in which like-minded people in an isolated group reinforce one another's views, which then harden into more extreme positions. Even one of his critics on the site acknowledged the shift. "Amazingly enough," he wrote, "it looks like Sunstein has polarized this group into unanimous agreement about him." An expletive followed.

    We see this in many places, even in Slashdot, where people familiar with technologies, philosophies, and even religions not condoned by the group are harrased and punished by the virulent commentary and conduct of some members. The alternate views are surpressed, even if there may be some benifit from them if you actually looked at them.

    This isolates the communities and makes them easier to handle by outside interests. It isolates the slashdot community.

    Philosophies are operating systems for the mind. It pays to understand the design principles of these operating systems in detail, and how they work and go together.

    Coming back to our example of King Canute, the internet might not be like the ocean. To some extant, it may be like islands of territories that we are creating ourselves with our activities. It may be a universe built up of the activities of all of its participants. This universe, even though it is still growing at a large rate, is limited in thew technical sense. It may be large, but it is limited. You can control sections of it, even large sections of it. The game for some is to control the most important sections of it.

    Thus we have MS usurping the jargon of calling the Internet the Net with their .NET. They are positioning themselves to control what they feel is the most important sector of the net, and marginalize the rest. Other interests are doing the same such as China, France, etc. each being polarized from the rest of the world.

    The future of the Net (not the .NET) is difficult to predict indeed.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

  • The removal of trees changed the climate.I always heard that it was the change of the climate that removed the trees... Nature is not static you know.

    Don't you love feedback loops? A classic example indeed!

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

  • One could also call it karma whoring. You didn't think the rest of your article carried any weight, so you threw in a anti-Microsoft attack hoping that the polarized community of slashdot would see that and go "Ohhhh, he's insightful!" and mod you up.

    I've been maxed out on karma for awhile now. It is a summer weekend, and the odds on anyone one being interested enough to mod it up are slim. But that point was intended as a bit of irony given the polarized nature of the community. If a member of the polarized community can think this through, the enhancement of nueron connections will be theraputic.

    ;-)

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

  • The author of the thesis sounds concerned that companies and individuals creating their own distribution and IP protection systems over the net will trample fair use provisions. I think he's skipping ahead to the second frog --hegemonic control of valuable data-- without leaping the first one --cash money that demonstrates the value of the data.
    Net security has been there from day one. You can protect your IP all day long if you know your users will have network access.
    Getting all paranoid about the long term effects of this is simply dismissing missing the point that people have to be willing to fork over cold hard cash on-line. Otherwise, there's no profit from protecting IP.
    I was hoping to be one of these ominous IP protecting dictatorial types, but I found that the actually making the on-line-sales part really gets in the way of plans for selling a product where and how and when you like with your snazzy high security control system.
    The volume of info available on the net continues to expand enormously despite the fact that there are few IP protections and minimal profits. When XP doesn't float, then we'll see a good example of why this thesis is sorta shooting too high. The architecture is already fine for those who like lots of data freely and readily available such as myself. And for those would-be neo-architects, such as myself again, who actually try employing some security measures to protect their IP . . . well, good luck. Remember, there's still a big print market. I don't think we need to be afraid of these folks yet. XP will be the windsock telling us how these things will blow.
  • As unfriendly as the Clinton administration was to notions of anonymity and privacy, the last U.S. election brought to power the guy Microsoft backed -- and they want Hailstorm/Passport to take hold, so the architecture of the net will change to accomodate it. Whatever power They (insert whatever governmental/quasi-governmental/corporate group you like here) didn't already have via Carvivore and god-knows-what-else to spy on us will be completed when we are forced to use Microsoft's authentication servers to accomplish anything on the net.

    Never happen? How many sites require cookies, javascript, or worse to function properly these days? How fast did everybody give up their privacy and security of their computer just to look at stuff on websites?
  • Finally, now everyday people can live thier intellectual lives the same way the Rich and Powerful have for years.

  • I have hated Microsoft since a day when few people had even heard of it -- before IBM introduced the PC, BillG was chugging out slow, crappy, bug-ridden BASIC interpreters which were the mainstay of home computer do-it-yourself design in the late 1970's, and like many self-taught programmers I was learning assembly language to get around the limitations of those systems.

    MicroSlothed has continued to chug out slow, crappy, bug-ridden products that never quite get finished ever since -- a text-based operating system that was almost right by version 6.11, then abandoned; a 16-bit windowing system that was almost finished at 3.11; a 32-over-16 system that was almost finished at 98 SE; and a secure corporate system that was almost useful by 4.0, now also abandoned. The jury is still out on 2000 but I'm not holding my breath; this zebra's stripes are engraved.

    So why is BillG one of the 1.5 richest people in the world? Because he got in the game early. First post, not best post.

    Meatspace moderation isn't measured in karma, it's measured in dollars -- and it isn't capped.

  • by localroger (258128) on Saturday June 02, 2001 @05:07AM (#182164) Homepage
    [from the NY times article] So, since the Net is an open architecture that anyone can tap into, those who attain power within that structure will use that power to attain more power until they control everything. Sort of like what happens in meatspace.
  • The Internet and property in information were widely believed to be incompatible, and technology would win against law and set information free. The reverse process is now underway: technical protections of intellectual property over networks may protect property interests in digital artefacts more comprehensively than has ever been possible in real space

    While laws and treaties like the DMCA and WCT are attempting to make the protection of digital work stronger, there's no real evidence that this approach actually works. For every instance of a copyrighted document or "circumvention device" removed under the provisions of the DMCA, dozens of copies spring up. Perhaps eventually these laws may be used to their full potential, to truly wipe a document off the net, but it's very unlikely that things could ever get to that point-- no court could be that effective without the creation of a police state. It's more likely that these laws will become something like the prohibition laws-- not really achieving their purpose, but having a lot of unintended consequences.

    In that case, it's hard to accept his argument that intellectual property law really "protects property interests in digital artifacts" better than non-digital artifacts. The new laws are more comprehensive (probably too much so), but only because they're fighting a much tougher-- even unwinnable-- battle. What we're seeing are the opening salvos in that battle; it's certainly way too early for people to be calling winners and losers. In fact, I wonder if this guy has even thought about what it would be like to live in a world where either side has "won".

  • Trying to learn a bit about Visual C++ today, so I'll print this out and read it later...

    The US government already monitors radio communications with Echelon, and they have been tapping internet packet streams for 3 years (?) with Carnivore. I hear conflicting reports about the capabilities of the feds, but some of the recent arrests (esp. Eastern European and Russian hackers) make me believe that they can tap your communications where and whenever they want. I think contrary to what many people believe, these powers are used sparingly, although raids of the Hacker Crackdown variety probably occur more frequently than we think. They are just not reported as much as back in 89 or 90' (This is just speculation; anyone have verification?). The "strong arm of the law" has certainly extended into cyberspace even since the first big waves of "hacker paranoia" back in the mid to late eighties. As more laws are passed similar to the Communications Decency Act of 1996 or the one in 86 (couldn't find the name), law enforcers have more reasons to bust people. Also, since the internet is "uncharted territory" with little historical development of "police", many different agencies believe that they can take a piece; witness, in the US, the involvment of the feds (FBI, NSA), local officials, state officials and local law enforcement agents (such as the police and sheriffs) plus random prosecutors and lawyers from anywhere (Arizona, Illinois with William Cook). Because the internet, or least the environments created there, are "placeless", any meat agency feels that they can leverage a jurisdiction over some portion given sufficient reason. The Secret Service, for instance, often gets involved, because their only other official duty outside of protecting the prez is to fight crimes of commerce. Many computer crimes involve telephone and credit card fraud, this agency has been able to participate freely. Computer crime almost always "crosses state boundaries" (I guess the packets usually do!), so the federal investigative agencies usually have a pretense for involvment.

    I dunno, is this just paranoia, or are there too many cops in America who are hell bent on forcing their personal agendas into every granny of our lives?

    I guess it is pretty easy to do a Denial of Service attack, especially if you're 13!
  • by Telek (410366) on Saturday June 02, 2001 @05:32AM (#182167) Homepage
    I don't think the issue here is whether or not the net CAN be regulated.. If the governments/companies put enough money towards anything, anything can be accomplished. Regulating the net is just a matter of money. However I think that the real question should be this: should the net be regulated? Personally, I think that it should not. I could get into a very long debate about that one, but I'll save it for now.
  • The net is more than just about speech, it cover such areas as publishing, privacy, advertising (hello, spammers of the world), telecommunications (e.g. as the carrier vs publisher debate), copyright, and generally touches upon most if not all facets of human life that have laws set down in the various countries of the world.

    Saying that it should not be regulated is like saying people should not be rude to each other, and equally effective. Whether the net should be regulated is a question already answered in the practical terms of, "Like it or not, it is regulated."

    So the question just becomes, "To what extent and in what manner should the net be regulated?"

  • I actually had an email conversation with one of the guys running ./ (sorry, can't remember which one), about 2 years ago. My suggestion was that moderators be given the choice to moderate a set of randomly picked comments, rather than having to read an entire response to an article. My theory was that no one with a life has time to read an entire 200 comments. His reply was that it would take away from the flow of the conversation. My response now is , "See?" Probably the most informative post of the whole article is lost in the flotsom. What a waste.
  • Is it a good idea to regulate the distribution of child pornography on the internet? For this the answer is universally yes.

    If so, why is there any child pornography on the net in the first place? If everyone thought it was a bad idea, no one would post any, and there would be no need to regulate it. It appears that somebody thinks it's a good idea, and would disagree with (and in so doing, disprove) your statement that the answer is "universally yes."

    The whole problem is of course that what obviously needs regulation according to some people should just as obviously be left unregulated according to others. The whole concept of "regulation" hinges on the fact that we don't have universal agreement, so some people decide to control the behaviour of others. Welcome to the real world of "cultural diversity."

    -- MarkusQ

  • Havn't you heard?

    The NSA has already infiltrated Cisco, Lucent, and the rest of the network equipment-maker bunch. They have been secretly building hidden hardware authentication schemes into their routers for years.

    I heard from a very good source that they'll soon be activated en masse, screwing all you invalids off the antiquated 'open network'. The checkpoint routers (GPS is now required) won't even allow your packets to pass over physical borders unless your digital passport can be validated, and the source and destination localities have agreed to let you communicate.

    The French suddenly can't buy Nazi memorabilia, the Chinese are kept inside the virtual wall, New Yorkers can't log in to StripClub.com, and ALL connections to cryptome, 2600, and ILoveThePurpleDinosaur.com are denied on this new 'Good Citizen' FedNet.

    The War on Drugs will turn out to be nothing compared to the War on AlterFreenet.

    Or not. :-)

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