Signs and portence

Posted on Thu 10 April 2003 in general

Now the news is a little less war obsessed I've noticed a couple of
interesting stories on the BBC. The first is
a story relating to the first US jailing under the
which is a law that to seeks to ban technology if it could be
used to circumnavigate copy protection, regardless of if it is. The
second is a story about a new campaign to stop broadband users href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/2932039.stm">having their
bandwidth capped.The first story is a concern because Europe is considering similar laws to the DMCA. I consider laws limiting technology (rather than actions) to be fundamentally flawed. Cyber
libertarians more eloquent than me have pointed out the many
difficulties with these laws but for me one good example was the DeCSS
debacle. The DVD people argued that tools for cracking the
Content Scrambling System on DVD's principle use was piracy, where in fact you can in fact make a perfect copy of a DVD that works without ever having to worry about the encryption. However CSS is needed for the region locking the movie studios use to keep the price differentials between the US and the rest of the
world.
The second story seems to be like a re-run of the unlimited dial-up
fiasco of a few years ago. The ISP's that happily took the fixed
monthly fee for unlimited use and then where surprised when their
customers took advantage of the unlimited use and suddenly re-defined
the word unlimited. Now I quite understand the pressures on cable
companies to keep their bandwidth manageable (I worked in telecomms for
a while) and being the net geek I am I use a fair bit of my 1Meg
cable bandwidth. What I object to is being sold one thing and then
getting given the other. I know I have an insatiable thirst for
bandwidth, thats why I got broadband!