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Why Politicians Should Never Make Laws About Technology 214

Posted by Soulskill
from the internet-is-a-series-of-tubes dept.
snydeq writes "As the world gets more and more technical, we can't let Luddites decide the fate of dangerous legislation like SOPA, writes Deep End's Paul Venezia. 'Very few politicians get technology. Many actually seem proud that they don't use the Internet or even email, like it's some kind of badge of honor that they've kept their heads in the sand for so long. These are the same people who will vote on noxious legislation like SOPA, openly dismissing the concerns and facts presented by those who know the technology intimately. The best quote from the SOPA debates: "We're operating on the Internet without any doctors or nurses on the room." That is precisely correct,' Venezia writes. 'The best we can do for the short term is to throw everything we can behind legislation to reinstate the Office of Technology Assessment. From 1974 through 1995, this small group with a tiny budget served as an impartial, nonpartisan advisory to the U.S. Congress on all matters technological.'"
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Why Politicians Should Never Make Laws About Technology

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @06:53PM (#38578900) Journal

    This simple act underscored a problem possibly bigger than SOPA: the fact that as with far too many of our elected officials, technology legislation isn't even on his radar.

    I don't think you understand SOPA. SOPA isn't a problem with Technology. It's not going to physically break the backbone routers we need for the internet. It's not going to present technological challenges. What it's going to do that is a problem is rape free speech [eff.org], make user-generated content (like what I'm doing right now) nearly impossible and on par with China's arcane policies [nytimes.com] as well as a number of other things. It threatens uploading content, it threatens internal networks, it threatens open source software, it threatens DNS, DNSSEC and internet security. And the worst part is that it's going to be completely ineffective at what it aims to do!

    You don't need to understand technology to read the pieces on how this is a direct assault on free speech. Screw their understanding of technology, frame this piece of shit legislation as a direct assault on basic civil liberties! Let them chisel into stone memos about their dry cleaning, who cares if they don't use e-mail. Just make sure they understand that this is first and foremost diametrically opposed to free speech when you simply consider the internet as a means of communication and expression!

    The best we can do for the short term is to throw everything we can behind legislation to reinstate the OTA (Office of Technology Assessment). From 1974 through 1995, this small group with a tiny budget served as an impartial, nonpartisan advisory to the U.S. Congress on all matters technological.

    Another government office or agency? Man, don't we have enough of that bullshit as it is? I think you're deflecting and focusing on something that will sidetrack us from getting this crap shut down. Call your representative and senators and tell them that you feel that your First Amendment Rights are being threatened by H.R. 3261 and forget trying to lecture them about how DNSSEC works.

    You want to effectively stop this? Here's a commercial I'd like to see Google air on national TV:

    *woman sits behind bars with a look of remorse on her face*
    Woman: I uploaded a video less than half a minute long of my toddler dancing to music on Youtube [arstechnica.com].
    *clip of cute toddler jamming out to some pop music plays*
    Woman: The video went viral. Then I received a letter in the mail from lawyers saying I owed them the cost of that song for every view. Instead of just taking it down, I'm now in a criminal lawsuit facing bankruptcy and jail time. Please call your representative to stop SOPA and prevent this from happening to thousands of people.

    Fight fire with fire, 15 second ad. Let's see it, Google.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Which networks will air this? All those ones that don't support SOPA?

      • by cjcela (1539859) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @10:27PM (#38580934)
        You do not need a network to air anything these days. Put it on YouTube, and allow for linking. Post it on Slashdot, Reddit, and 10 or 20 more popular websites. Post it on Facebook, tweet about. Link it from the comments on articles about SOPA in news websites.
      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        There are laws regarding acceptance of advertising - the networks will do all they can to find loopholes, but they can't explicitly block it for being anti-SOPA if the person pays for the ad and follows certain rules and regulations.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Aighearach (97333)

      I disagree, it creates a conflict of rights and a loophole allowing people to commit harm to others. That is foolish and irresponsible, but it is not the end of the world or the end of slashdot or the end of free speech. If it is abused, then the conflict of rights will have to be resolved in the courtroom. No matter how badly the courts stumble over it, it won't end up with some doomsday "zomg we're China" xenophobic nonsense.

      • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:23PM (#38579268) Journal

        I disagree, it creates a conflict of rights and a loophole allowing people to commit harm to others. That is foolish and irresponsible, but it is not the end of the world or the end of slashdot or the end of free speech.

        When did I say it was the end of the world, the end of Slashdot or the end of free speech? And, yes, it could affect my Slashdot posting as I might inform you that I have parodied Dr. Suess and movies and songs in my posts. Should a rights holder decide that those are too close to their original material or even just decide that I probably couldn't defend their lawsuit, they could sue me instead of issuing a DMCA and demanding it be taken down.

        If it is abused, then the conflict of rights will have to be resolved in the courtroom.

        Well, unfortunately, those with the most money often win in the courtroom and which side do you think is going to predominantly be the big dog? The conglomeration of all record labels known as the RIAA? Or the single mother?

        No matter how badly the courts stumble over it, it won't end up with some doomsday "zomg we're China" xenophobic nonsense.

        Wow, if you think my criticism of an oppressive tool such as the Great Firewall of China is xenophobic then you truly are ignorant. Don't you get it, I want to help the Chinese people enjoy the freedom to say and read whatever the hell they want! I want the Chinese people to enjoy the freedoms I enjoy like being able to say "Fuck the United States Government and that wasteful war in Iraq" while being a citizen and not worry that there is a death van awaiting me on my return to my home tonight. That's not xenophobia, you idiot! It's a desire for freedom! I suffer from oppressive-government-phobia!

      • We may not end up in a doomsday scenario, but the overhead of SOPA builds a strong framework ripe for abuse. I feel it is a better idea to draw the line now and say no regulation before a monster like SOPA is passed and we have to see our rights whittled away case after case. Leave the Internet open and place the burden on the content producers to build a FAIR framework for anti-piracy if they want one. The current model plus SOPA will place huge financial burden on people even in "fair use" cases. It is an
      • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @11:00PM (#38581140) Homepage Journal

        Sure, it can be resolved in a courtroom. Some one uses SOPA to take down your site. Your site is down, so your revenues are down. It takes two years to get your day in court. By this time, you have, by necessity, moved on to something else. So, finally, your day in court is an inconvenience that interferes with your current job/contract/consultancy. You're screwed no matter how you look at it, and the MAFIAA wins.

      • ...it won't end up with some doomsday "zomg we're China" xenophobic nonsense.

        Yeah, by all means play the race card. Never mind that the GP's argument had nothing to do with race.

        In my country (New Zealand) we're very familiar with your particular flavour of Politically Correct Arsehole. You pricks are always there ready to drown out intelligent conversation by screaming "RACIST!!" without taking a nanosecond to actually understand the argument. You're also usually wrong.

        Of course, you won't let that alter your behaviour for even a moment.

      • by tombeard (126886)

        Yea, like drunken airline passengers could never be charged under terrorism laws because they were only meant for real terrorists, not drunk airline passengers. Pick your link. The people in charge of incarcerating other people have taken any excuse to do so, no matter how torturous the interpretation of the law. And the courts have, since they are in the same business, decided this is just fine. So be very careful what you allow.

        • by HopefulIntern (1759406) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @09:04AM (#38583962)
          From Aesop:

          Once upon a time a Wolf was lapping at a spring on a hillside, when, looking up, what should he see but a Lamb just beginning to drink a little lower down.
          "There's my supper," thought he, "if only I can find some excuse to seize it." Then he called out to the Lamb, "How dare you muddle the water from which I am drinking?"

          "Nay, master, nay," said Lambikin; "if the water be muddy up there, I cannot be the cause of it, for it runs down from you to me."

          "Well, then," said the Wolf, "why did you call me bad names this time last year?"

          "That cannot be," said the Lamb; "I am only six months old."

          "I don't care," snarled the Wolf; "if it was not you it was your father;" and with that he rushed upon the poor little Lamb and ate her all up. But before she died she gasped out: "Any excuse will serve a tyrant."

    • by mgiuca (1040724) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:21PM (#38579240)

      I don't think you understand SOPA. SOPA isn't a problem with Technology. ... It threatens uploading content, it threatens internal networks, it threatens open source software, it threatens DNS, DNSSEC and internet security. ... You don't need to understand technology to read the pieces on how this is a direct assault on free speech.

      Unfortunately, yes, you do. You just listed four highly technical terms, and explaining how SOPA is going to break those things does require a highly technical understanding. So I believe the original article is absolutely right that the problem is politicians not understanding technology.

      Screw their understanding of technology, frame this piece of shit legislation as a direct assault on basic civil liberties! Let them chisel into stone memos about their dry cleaning, who cares if they don't use e-mail. Just make sure they understand that this is first and foremost diametrically opposed to free speech when you simply consider the internet as a means of communication and expression!

      But they don't consider the Internet as a means of communication and expression. If they are chiseling into stone tablets, then SOPA isn't going to affect them. To them, the Internet is that thing that lets pirates get films for free, and the MPAA has told them that's wrong. Again, the problem is that they don't understand that the Internet is free speech in one of its purest forms, and this will strangle the Internet.

      *woman sits behind bars with a look of remorse on her face*

      There's a website along these lines: Free Justin Beiber [freebieber.org].
      I agree, a 15 second ad would be great.

      • Come on, politicians aren't all cavemen recently defrozen either. The average age of a member of the House is less than 60, and they didn't come from the Amish either. While I don't doubt most don't understand how most of the technology works behind the scenes, there's no reason to assume they're that ignorant about how the Internet enables Free Speech and how dangerous a tool like SOPA will be.

        • by mgiuca (1040724)

          I consider SOPA a reason to assume they're ignorant about it, if nothing else. You might attribute that to malice. ("Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.") I think it's a mixture of both.

          I don't doubt that these politicians have been completely bought out by the likes of the MPAA, and that they are acting in the interests of lobbying groups. But at the same time, I also don't think they have a clue, for example, what we mean when we say "SOPA will break DNSSEC," and nor

      • by steelfood (895457) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @11:59PM (#38581534)

        I don't think you give them credit for what they understand.

        I think they understand well that the internet is a means of communication. I think they understand all too well in fact. It is because the internet provides every individual human being with their own individual soapboxes that politicians do in fact want to limit it. It is because now, every minor party from the communists to the greens to the anarchists have an effective and cheap way to communicate their message to the masses.

        The internet terrifies them. It's not very effective today, but they're thinking about tomorrow. They're thinking about Web 2.0, and user-generated content, in particular, user-generated political speech. They're thinking about ten million people going to Youtube to watch an untelevised debate between candidates without "R" or "D" behind their name. They're thinking about fifty million followers of the green party's twitter feed. And it's a threat that's going to materialize soon--very soon.

        Politicians and companies alike are threatened not necessarily by free speech itself, but speech that is easily accessible. The only difference between the two is that politicians are in it for the power while companies are in it for the money. The fact that their interests just so happen to coincide makes it all the more convenient for the politicans to enact such legislation, and for companies to throw money at it.

        Why do you think there is limited opposition to the act? It's not just the content lobbies sweet-talking their politicians with campaign donations. The political establishment itself wants to get rid of speech on the internet.

        The worst part is, if SOPA fails, there will be another push for a similar piece of legislation sometime down the line. Should that fail, there will be yet another. It will continue like this until either the populace gets fed up and stops objecting (either through compromise or exasperation), or they smarten up and start voting for candidates that really represent their interests.

        If I were a betting man, my money would not be on the latter.

      • I don't think you understand SOPA. SOPA isn't a problem with Technology. ... It threatens uploading content, it threatens internal networks, it threatens open source software, it threatens DNS, DNSSEC and internet security. ... You don't need to understand technology to read the pieces on how this is a direct assault on free speech.

        Unfortunately, yes, you do. You just listed four highly technical terms, and explaining how SOPA is going to break those things does require a highly technical understanding. So I believe the original article is absolutely right that the problem is politicians not understanding technology.

        Heh, that's creative editing and quoting. Those sentences aren't even in the same paragraph. GP's point is that SOPA's main problem isn't about technology, although it causes a few tech issues. SOPA's main problem is that it attack civil liberties.

    • I don't think you understand SOPA. SOPA isn't a problem with Technology. It's not going to physically break the backbone routers we need for the internet. It's not going to present technological challenges. What it's going to do that is a problem is rape free speech [eff.org], make user-generated content (like what I'm doing right now) nearly impossible and on par with China's arcane policies [nytimes.com] as well as a number of other things. It threatens uploading content, it threatens internal networks, it threatens open source software, it threatens DNS, DNSSEC and internet security. And the worst part is that it's going to be completely ineffective at what it aims to do!

      Phew! I was worried about that for a second, and then you mentioned it would be ineffective at what it aims to do. I guess I have nothing to worry about then!

    • by sunderland56 (621843) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:34PM (#38579386)
      Does your mom understand SOPA as well as you do? The point of the article is that (a) our moms and dads don't understand current technology, and (b) their generation are the ones creating and passing legislation.

      If you think SOPA is bad, then consider the fact that the next 10 technology-related bills in Congress could be worse.
      • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @01:23AM (#38582008)

        Does your mom understand SOPA as well as you do? The point of the article is that (a) our moms and dads don't understand current technology, and (b) their generation are the ones creating and passing legislation.

        Having read the text of the proposed law, I expect that I understand it as well as anyone.

        And being about the age of the average Congresscritter, I'm aware that MY generation is the one creating and passing legislation.

        So, no, it's not about ignorant people passing bad legislation. It's about people whose objectives are different than YOUR objectives passing legislation.

        You want free speech, they want money (and the votes that money can buy).

        When your desire for free speech translates to money/votes, they'll care. Until then, they will ignore you.

        • by tbannist (230135)

          So, no, it's not about ignorant people passing bad legislation. It's about people whose objectives are different than YOUR objectives passing legislation.

          I think it is both. I would strongly suspect that most people in Congress have little idea about technology and little interest in it. Congressional elections select for those who can convince a small group of primary voters to select them often based on their success in raising money for their campaign. That means most representatives have two areas of expertise: fund raising and convincing people to vote for them. They may have some other areas of expertise, but it's not guaranteed and most of them pr

      • by master_p (608214)

        Yes, they do. It's not that difficult: if a site infringes on copyright, a notice is enough to block access to it. There is no need to involve any technical definitions in the explanation.

    • by grcumb (781340) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:36PM (#38579410) Homepage Journal

      I don't think you understand SOPA. SOPA isn't a problem with Technology.

      You're exactly right. SOPA is the mere exercise of bare power. The problem is not the politicians' ignorance; they know full well what they're doing. The problem is that they don't care. They've gone to the well for campaign funding, and this is the bucket they brought the water back in. It's really that simple. Technical considerations don't even get a look in.

      It threatens uploading content, it threatens internal networks, it threatens open source software, it threatens DNS, DNSSEC and internet security.

      "So?" asked the Congressman, "What did FOSS, DNS and DNSSEC ever do for me?"

      There are only two levers that can change a congressman's mind: Votes and money. The money (to buy the votes) is behind SOPA right now, so that's where he'll be found.

      What needs to be made clear to him, therefore, is that no amount of money is going to be enough to save his seat. And rather than wait for election day (which will be too late), take a lesson from the Tea Party and primary the fucker. 'Tis the season, after all....

      Putting together a well-organised campaign to get delegates up in arms about an issue as basic and important as this is neither too hard nor too expensive. Find a clear-eyed, presentable spokesperson who can explain the problem in a nutshell, and start working on your local party committee members to back him. You don't (necessarily) need to get your person (s)elected even. Long before that, you can be sure that your candidate will have a moment of epiphany where suddenly the problem becomes clear and his position switches accordingly.

      This approach can't easily be countered by lobbyists, because they don't have a significant presence outside of Washington, they don't know the local ground nearly as well as you do, and they simply don't have enough money allocated to counter every primary challenge.

      Tactically, this is insurgency warfare. Look to Iraq and Afghanistan for some indication of its effectiveness.

      • What needs to be made clear to him, therefore, is that no amount of money is going to be enough to save his seat. And rather than wait for election day (which will be too late), take a lesson from the Tea Party and primary the fucker. 'Tis the season, after all....

        Since when do incumbents face primaries? I've heard about it for very unpopular candidates, where even their own party won't back them for reelection, but not otherwise. I could be wrong -- I'm not trying to be a dick, I am curious.

        I think you hav

        • by grcumb (781340)

          Since when do incumbents face primaries? I've heard about it for very unpopular candidates, where even their own party won't back them for reelection, but not otherwise.

          You just answered your own question. Make the candidate unpopular, and the primary has to happen. Register a lot of new members, stack the committees, or lobby them, or both, and make it clear that for as long as your representative stands by SOPA, his survival is far from assured.

    • try making DNSSEC work in a SOPA world. How about the fact that the fundamental enforcement tool is to perform a mandated man in the middle attack on DNS. that is pretty fucked up and breaks the internet.

      What will happen is these criminals will simply move to a more robust DNS solution and a new internet will be born which makes it nearly impossible for the powerful to stomp out.

      Silk road anyone?

      • DNSSEC works fine in a SOPA world: the ISP can just drop the reply instead of forging it. The end result is the same.

    • CAPTURED BY INDUSTRY.

      Reinstating OTA won't solve the problem, when the office will be populated by revolving-door industry flacks, just as regulatory agencies are, today.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      That DOES break the internet ... with respect to making the internet more secure and reliable. What SOPA should do is use outside means of law enforcement against the violators. The very serious problems with SOPA is that it requires breaking security integrity for ISPs to comply with the possible orders they could receive. It also will cost the ISPs substantially more money. And this is being done without the proper judicial due process the US Constitution requires (we can only hope this gets quickly k

    • by Phoghat (1288088)
      Maybe, just maybe, we should vote for Scott [slashdot.org] . Seeing as how there are so many pointy headed bosses out there. Hey, he could be as good as Al Franken, and look where he started.
  • by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:00PM (#38578990) Homepage Journal

    The Greek "politicians" were actually philosophers. They knew they didn't understand everything, so arguments were structured to expose their own ignorance through the statement of assumptions: "Assuming X is true."

    This inevitably can lead to more discussion about whether the assumptions are valid, but the approach at least documents the process of working through the details of what eventually would become legislation.

    Right now politicians make decisions based on ideology and dogma, not on logic and reasoning. At a bare minimum, Parliament and Congress should be held to a philosophical evaluation of law that starts with "Assuming the Constitution is true" and "Assuming the Charter of Rights is valid". Those foundational documents should always be the core of testing the validity of an argument for encoding something as law.

    As long as politicians are chosen by a popularity contest instead of an assessment of their skills, experience, and knowledge, that leads me to conclude that politicians should not make laws at all.

    Instead, they should be responsible for collecting evidence from the public, industry, and others concerned about the legislation they propose to prove it's good legislation meeting the needs of the people, not serving the will of dogma and corporate influence.

    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:12PM (#38579134) Homepage Journal
      Heeey, that's dangerous talk, Citizen; someone might hear that and accuse you of ThoughtCrime.

      No sweat, though, just head on down to your neighborhood re-education center and we'll scrub those subversive thoughts right out of your cranium!
      • by hitmark (640295)

        Citizen? How archaic. It is consumer these days...

        Now get back to consuming! *whip snap*

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      What's funny is that Slashdot and all the other tech blogs was pro-net neutrality all last year, and posters like me who criticized that kind of government intervention were downmodded into oblivion because it went against the opinion of the hivemind. Now with SOPA, people have seen just what it's like when politicians try to regulate the internet from Washington, and suddenly it's cool again to keep politicians away from technology! My head gets dizzy sometimes from the back and forth in trends.

      • by Alphathon (1634555) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:46PM (#38579556)

        Apples and Oranges. Net neutrality is about regulation of those that deliver the internet (i.e. ISPs) so as to prevent them from, for example, blocking or throttling sites/content from particular providers or that use particular protocols as it suits them. SOPA is about regulating what goes on ON the internet which is entirely separate. Net neutrality is about competition, while SOPA is about content control.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 1zenerdiode (777004)

      Right now politicians make decisions based on money, not on logic and reasoning.

      There. Fixed that for you. Otherwise, I generally agree with you.

    • half right (Score:5, Interesting)

      by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @08:40PM (#38580104) Homepage Journal

      "As long as politicians are chosen by a popularity contest instead of an assessment of their skills, experience, and knowledge..."

      wait... who is making that assessment? all you have introduced is another corruptible source of power. "We have found politician XYZ to be without skills because we got $15M in our bank accounts to say so." i know what you are talking about in theory, but in practice, you are just introducing another point of failure and corruption in the power structure. there is only one valid source of power: the people. so only they should determine who rules them via, i'm sorry, a popularity contest. not because they always vote with the best intelligence and interests. but because any other source of arbiting power is worse

      "Instead, they should be responsible for collecting evidence from the public, industry, and others concerned about the legislation they propose..."

      and this is exactly right. they don't know everything. but they know how to assemble bright minds to help them decide. unfortunately, the concept of bright minds helping them decide is being replaced by pay-to-play in our democracy-rapidly-becoming-plutocracy

      • by yuhong (1378501)

        This is why I suggested this [ycombinator.com]:
        "Actually, randomly selecting people from a state or province, similar to a lottery draw, may be a better idea. The key is to make sure it is a large variety of people."

        • "Actually, randomly selecting people from a state or province, similar to a lottery draw, may be a better idea. The key is to make sure it is a large variety of people."

          An idea even more radical is to place term limits on the Senate, House of Representatives and Supreme Court. It will require a change to the Constitution, but the mood for such a change is reflected in the dismal 11% approval rating of Congress. Use your vote to favor a government that does not have at is heart a stagnating core of dinosaurs who every year fall increasingly out of touch with "the people" and further into lock step with the status quo.

      • by msobkow (48369)

        Worse, there's a tendency in government on both sides of the border to IGNORE the advice of any critics and proceed with a goose-step down the dogmatic path the politician's vision has laid before them. It's been a long time since rational thought and evidence-based decision making had anything to do with government.

        Roughly a decade, in Canada's case.

        I'm talking about politicians making their education and experience a core part of their platform to prove to the people that they have the skills and qu

  • Structure. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by headkase (533448) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:07PM (#38579072)
    The sad fact is that it doesn't matter if there's a resource for politicians to get sound information from to make decisions. With the structure of today's congress/senate what you need are actually lobbyists - lot's of them and bribes, err, campaign donations too!

    Look at what happened to Microsoft: they didn't lobby enough and found themselves on the wrong-end of an antitrust suit. Now they lobby enough that that's not a problem anymore.
  • You're right... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by afabbro (33948) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:14PM (#38579172) Homepage
    Politicians should never make laws about technology. Which is why machine guns should be free for everyone to own.
    • by trout007 (975317)

      If you have half a brain you can take a look at any semi-automatic rifle and figure out how to make it fully auto.

      Now I still haven't had a chance to see how they make the M4 have a 3 round burst.

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@PARISlynx.bc.ca minus city> on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:15PM (#38579176) Journal

    Will SOPA affect the usage of the internet for people outside of the USA, but where a recursive DNS query might happen to travel through it (for example, somebody in mexico finding a domain that is based in Canada, or vice versa)?

    It's been suggested that people who utilize DNSSEC can simply ignore SOPA, because SOPA explicitly states that nobody is required to make significant changes to their software or facilities to comply with it. Will organizations that use DNSSEC be later dragged into court for "enabling" copyright infringement? Will free software start to also suffer a similar fate?

    Will SOPA ultimately lead to additional legislation that will require ISP's to prohibit their users from utilizing foreign DNS servers?

    Will SOPA ultimately lead to censorship by IP address, when blocking domain names has been shown to be ineffective? And if so, owing to the lack of available IPv4 address space that can potentially make it inconvenient for somebody to bypass such censorship by switching IP's, will this create delays in supporting widespread IPv6 adoption, where the availability of trillions of IP addresses would make it arguably easier to bypass such censorship?

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:19PM (#38579224)

    Politicians are basically owned by the big money corporations that put the politicians in office. The politicos don't know about tech, and don't care either. The lobbyists write the bills, and the give the bills to the politicians to pass - along with a big campaign contribution, of course.

    Do you actually think SOPA started in congress? Some congressmen, all of the sudden, thought it was important to save the content providers?

    All the stuff about "politicians don't understand tech well enough to make laws about it" is just silly. Congress doesn't even read the bills it passes, and congress certainly does not write the bills.

    All JMHO, of course.

  • There's a quote by a politician (perhaps a US President) which I can't find exactly, but I can paraphrase it: The best way to expose and destroy an unjust law is by rigorously enforcing it. If anyone knows the exact quote please tell me.

    I've always been of the same view. If SOPA passes (I pray it does not), what can I, as an individual, do with it to cause chaos? Could I force Amazon to remove all of my product reviews? Mess with eBay seller feedback? Post copyrighted material in comments on Whitehouse.gov

    • by FSWKU (551325)

      There's a quote by a politician (perhaps a US President) which I can't find exactly, but I can paraphrase it: The best way to expose and destroy an unjust law is by rigorously enforcing it. If anyone knows the exact quote please tell me.

      I've always been of the same view. If SOPA passes (I pray it does not), what can I, as an individual, do with it to cause chaos? Could I force Amazon to remove all of my product reviews? Mess with eBay seller feedback? Post copyrighted material in comments on Whitehouse.gov and get the site shut down?

      That's a nice thought, and fine in theory. However, it won't work that way in practice. You see, should SOPA become law, it will be enforced on the little guy when some corporation needs to shake someone down for cash or silence criticism. The politicians who actually vote for it will likely be exempt. Sure, you COULD try to call out a supporter when you see them committing willful infringement, but since they voted FOR the measure, everyone will look the other way. Can't have the lobbyists biting the hand

      • by pclminion (145572)

        I wasn't talking about using SOPA against pro-SOPA companies. I'm talking about using it against individuals and innocuous websites to cause general chaos. If the law allows it, why not? That's the whole point -- expose the bad law by inflicting terrible consequences upon innocent people.

  • Office of Technology Assessment.

    ..but since I am not American, this is not really a failure on my part. But I am just wondering... where they somehow involved in the betamax case in 1984? Sensible ruling. Enough reason to get 'disbanded' in 1995.

    • by Dyinobal (1427207)
      Ya if we made it again politicians and lobbiests would just stuff it with their buddies and use it as a means to pass what ever laws they wanted.
  • From 1974 through 1995, this small group with a tiny budget served as an impartial, nonpartisan advisory to the U.S. Congress on all matters technological.

    Only bad could come from its reinstatement:
    1) "Buy IBM and Microsoft and contract with (insert major defense contractor) and (well-connected Indian body shop) for services - that's all you need to worry about."
    2) Usual government bureaucracy means we'll get specs for good technology ten years after consumers have moved on

    Very few politicians get technology. Many actually seem proud that they don't use the Internet or even email

    I call BS. 1999 wants its quote back. Everyone in Congress and almost every politician with any pull has a smart phone and those use...the Internet and email.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Bullshit.
      There have been many. many examples of non partisan government agency being of great value.

      Yes, it should be reinstated.

      That's not what the agency does. Do you now how blindingly stupid and ignorant you sound?

      • Do you now how blindingly stupid and ignorant you sound?

        Is this your first day? I understand "Blindingly stupid and ignorant" was the second-choice slogan to "News for nerds, stuff that matters."

  • The preceding discussion is based on the term "technology" being used in a very narrow sense. However, the argument still applies when the term is used broadly, and hence to probably 80% of modern life. How many politicians (and lumpen proles) understand enough to make informed decisions about stem cells, oil pipelines, radio spectrum allocation, chemicals, water treatment and distribution, combustion, electrical networks, etc., etc. But yet laws and regulations are passed every day.

    The politicians can l

  • The issue is they aren't informed.

  • by nomadic (141991) <.nomadicworld. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:44PM (#38579532) Homepage
    Technology experts are frequently completely clueless about the law.
  • by rs1n (1867908) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @07:45PM (#38579544)
    Instead of electing educated scientists and engineers (see China) to office, we instead elect people whose qualifications are in social sciences. That is, the politicians we often end up choosing are mostly good at manipulating people with their rhetoric (and the masses fall for it); but they are pretty stupid when it comes to technical details. Furthermore, your average Joe is intimidated by the nerds (hence the term "nerd"). We often say "Oh I suck at math" when that term is brought up, and that is too often the typical response by the average American. We're too proud of being stupid, and then we elect stupid politicians to office to run our country.
  • Politicians Ignore Constituency...news at 11.
  • I bet they all use the internet, and they do a lot trolling forums and message boards anonymously trolling pro statist and pro big government points of views
  • See my sig. Of course, no one ever listens to me.
  • A better way to think of politicians is not as people but a process. They're a system. A committee of blind people that gets all their information from thousands of little braille cards that are handed to them. These cards indicate polling information, funding, demographic surveys, etc. What they're actually talking about from one second to the other rarely matters. What matters is whether voting one way or the other will improve their chances of getting reelected.

    If you want to talk to politicians... don't

  • by nilbog (732352) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @12:49AM (#38581846) Homepage Journal

    The problem with congress is not that they lack good information or sources for good information. If we reinstate the office of technological assessment, it will simply add to the voices of industry people who are already there. However, the real problem (the money), will still be there, and the senators will still vote whichever way the company who makes generous donations to their campaign dictates.

  • Why Politicians Should Never Make Laws

    - Fixed that for you.

  • They do not just admit it. It is easier for them to say "I ignore technology" in order to justify their anti-technology laws.

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

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