"Because we don't know how to make a wheel that is still generally useful for legitimate wheel applications but useless to bad guys."
January 4, 2012 4:47 AM Subscribe
posted by jeffburdges (138 comments total)
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Cory Doctorow's 28C3
talk The Coming War on General Purpose Computation
) warns that "the coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race."
Doctorow treats legislators relatively
sympathetically asserting that "information technology confounds [their] heuristics" about whether regulation has unconscionable side effects, comparing regulating computation or networking with regulating the nature of wheels.
A few choice quotes : [18m08
] "an appliance is not a stripped-down computer, it is a fully functional computer with spyware on it out of the box"
] "attempts to make a network that can't be used for copyright infringement always converges with the surveillance measures that we know from repressive governments." .. "In fact, the proponents of SOPA, the Motion Picture Association of America, circulated a memo, citing research that SOPA would probably work, because it uses the same measures as are used in Syria, China, and Uzbekistan, and they argued that these measures are effective in those countries, and so they would work in America, too!"
] "copyright is just not important to pretty much everyone"
] "The grievances that arose from unauthorized copying are trivial, when compared to the calls for action that our new computer-embroidered reality will create."
] "there will be judges in the American South and Mullahs in Iran who will lose their minds over people in their jurisdiction printing out sex toys."
] "Imagine what will happen the day that Monsanto determines that it's really really important to make sure that computers can't execute programs that cause specialized peripherals to output organisms that eat their lunch."
] "as we saw in the copyright wars, all attempts at controlling PCs will converge on rootkits; all attempts at controlling the Internet will converge on surveillance and censorship"
I hear Doctorow's book Little Brother
contains the unabridged version. Ironically, Belarus criminalized using foreign websites
and Spain passed SOPA-like legislation
a couple days after his talk.
In the same vein, The Un-Internet
by Dave Weiner at Scripting News discusses about tech companies trying to take control away from users, taking Apple to task for leading a new "push to control users" through their App Store. "Once [Apple] took the power to decide what software could be distributed on their platform, it was inevitable that speech would be restricted too."
Doctorow similarly criticizes the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface
(UEFI) which restricts newer PCs to only running signed operating systems, noting that "repressive governments will likely withhold signatures from OSes unless they have covert surveillance operations." 1
And Thom Holwerda concludes that Richard Stallman Was Right All Along
1 LinuxBIOS/Coreboot coauthor Ronald Minnich says "[the UEFI authors] make no secret of the fact that a 'core value' of EFI is the preservation of intellectual property related to chipset programming and internal architecture." (see also lwn.net and linuxfoundation.org)