Does analog hole bill amount to a secret law?

When a bill dictates the use of a technology, shouldn't the specs of that technology be available to the public, an anti-DRM advocate asks.

The Sensenbrenner analog hole bill dictates the use of two technologies - CGMS-A and VEIL-  as part of a "rights signaling system. Ed Felten blogs that he tried to find out more about VEIL but was told he would have to license the decoder for $10,000, and in any case, the VEIL encoder is locked-down proprietary.

The details of this technology are important for evaluating this bill. How much would the proposed law increase the cost of televisions? How much would it limit the future development of TV technology? How likely is the technology to mistakenly block authorized copying? How adaptable is the technology to the future? All of these questions are important in debating the bill. And none of them can be answered if the technology part of the bill is secret.

Which brings us to the most interesting question of all: Are the members of Congress themselves, and their staffers, allowed to see the spec and talk about it openly? Are they allowed to consult experts for advice? Or are the full contents of this bill secret even from the lawmakers who are considering it?

 

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