Thursday

Thursday 25/07/02A draft bill before Congress will give Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley the right to hack your computer in order to stop you copying music files. You bad person, you.

Thursday 25/07/02
A draft bill before Congress will give Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley the right to hack your computer in order to stop you copying music files. You bad person, you. And if they damage your PC? You'll have to get special permission to sue them: otherwise, they're exempt from normal laws. This is so far beyond the pale that it's hard to know where to start. What if the principles involved -- if you can grace such vigilante piracy with such a high falutin' term as 'principle' in the first place -- get adopted elsewhere? If I suspect someone of committing a crime that disadvantages me, do I get the right to bash in their front door and rampage through their house? Of course not; I'm not a big business with friends in power It's not the only terrifying development going on in the US right now. Take a look at www.citizencorps.gov, the latest, greatest idea in the War Against Terrorism. Click on Operation TIPS. Yes, the US Government is commissioning millions of American workers as spies to report on 'unusual or suspicious activity', confidentially and with no chance of comeback. I've already seen 'patriots' in AOL chat rooms loudly passing on the email addresses of anyone who expresses a pro-Arab or pro-Palestinian opinion to 'their friends in the FBI'. Let's not forget: despite the constitutional safeguards, an American citizen, Abdullah al Muhajir, is currently in detention indefinitely and with none of his normal legal rights after being declared an "enemy combatant" by the US Government. The fact he was arrested in the US and hadn't combated anyone is apparently irrelevant. When the safety of the state is so important that the rule of law can be suspended, and when the crime of copying music -- copying music, for heaven's sake! -- is so heinous that my normal rights are discarded, there are bad times ahead. I recommend the study of recent history.

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