AUUG 2005: DRM and wiretapping huge threats to cyber freedom

The effort spearheaded in the US to require people building voice technologies to code in wiretapping from the beginning of development, is currently the gravest threat to cyber-freedom, according to Brad Templeton from the Electronic Frontier Foundation who spoke at AUUG 2005 today.

But this, he said, is closely followed by the plan to try to push DRM (Digital Rights Management) into all media technology, "which locks out Linux and open source and that is where all the innovation is coming from," he said.

Templeton said that enabling a million innovators in basements to solve problems and come up with new ideas means that hundreds of millions of end users reap the benefits.

"Enabling this, however, requires open computers. As soon as people need permission to innovate, then innovation only gets done by large organizations with legal departments. In effect, it gets smothered," he said.

Templeton believes the legal system generally struggles with technology-related cases such as MGM v Grokster (where 28 international entertainment companies have claimed the makers of the Morpheus, Grokster, and KaZaA software products breach copyright) or the Apple v John Does case (where Apple filed a lawsuit against unnamed individuals, presumably Apple employees or contractors, for leaking information about an upcoming Apple product to online news sites).

"Technology's growth is not slowing down at all, so those who make the laws are going to have to think about how to write them to go after a moving target. This is not impossible; we think about moving targets all the time," he said.

"But when ever it's a 'here's what we have seen so far, so let's design a regulatory scheme based on it', framework, it is always going to be wrong."

Templeton's topic at AUUG today was about cyber-freedom issues. He will talk later in the week about technical issues in system administration and also about VoIP, Skype and SIP.

For more information about AUUG, see: http://www.auug.org.au/events/2005/auug2005/

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Dahna McConnachie

Computerworld

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