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Wanted: more tech-savvy politicians
You have mixed feelings about the legality of file sharing, but you can't get the latest Red Hot Chili Peppers song out of your head--you have to hear it again, now. So you download the file-sharing app of your choice, locate the song you want, and what the heck, you download it. The song plays OK, so you're happy. A few days later, however, your computer locks up; it won't even boot. After taking it to a professional, you find that the BIOS has been damaged.
This is pretty much what happened to thousands of people infected by the Chernobyl virus in early 1998. Chernobyl overwrote the BIOS on infected PCs with gibberish, requiring companies and individuals to purchase new motherboards to remedy the situation.
While it is currently illegal to use the Internet to damage another computer, at least one U.S. senator sees nothing wrong with the recording industry pursuing this approach to punish copyright violators.
That's the wrong way to solve an admittedly difficult issue. Even more importantly, it's another example of how so many of today's politicians misunderstand computer technology and the Internet--and thus come up with extreme, inappropriate solutions to tech-related problems.
Just last week, during a hearing on the national security risks of peer-to-peer technology, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah said he sees nothing wrong with destroying the computers of those who download copyrighted material from the Internet. After hearing from some of his constituents, however, Hatch recast his comment somewhat: "I do not favor extreme remedies--unless no moderate remedies can be found," he said.
Do unto others
I say: Enough! It's time to start electing some tech-savvy politicians to office.
The government's behavior when it comes to thorny tech issues is not only misguided, it's also hypocritical. How can the government punish hackers who violate others' privacy by breaking into their computers, yet also argue that under some circumstances the government has the right to violate some people's privacy by covertly logging their keystrokes?
Tech smart politicians
We need thoughtful solutions to problems with copyright protection, hacking, and other such matters. But we will get that only if our representatives have a better idea of how computers and the Internet work. Personal technology now touches almost all of our daily lives, meaning imprudent legislation would affect a great number of Americans directly.
If you're as unhappy as I am with the uninformed opinions coming out of Washington, join me in seeking out and voting for tech-savvy politicians next year.
Do you want more tech-savvy politicans? How do you think we should solve these difficult issues? TalkBack to me.
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