Internet Access is not a right
Someone on a newsgroup reminded me that access to the internet
certainly is not a "right", and that's absolutely correct. Our
government can decide that it is necessary to restrict access at
any time, and can enforce that however they feel is necessary.
I suggested that possiblity at /Blog/B397.html and will reproduce that
I've written earlier about "illegal" Linux, but I now think I have a
pretty good idea how it could come to be.
wrote about licensing computer users, but that's not what's
going to happen. No, what the s.o.b's will probably try to do is
license operating systems that can connect to the
Here's the argument they'll make: unpatched, unlicensed
operating systems are too dangerous. National security is at stake,
and businesses are losing billions of dollars because of
Only "approved" operating systems will be allowed to
connect. Of course Microsoft will happily include Windows 98 and
NT4 in the unapproved list, because then it's not their fault you
have to upgrade.
Microsoft and anyone else who wants to play will have to
build certain bogus "safeguards" into their offerings, but no Open
Source need apply because obviously it's too easy to pervert the
safeguards if you have source. So anything you can build yourself,
that hasn't been compiled by a duly licensed operating system
vendor, will be illegal on the Net.
So you'll be able to use your Linux, but not if it
connects to the internet. Effectively, that means you can't use it
This really can happen. I am certain that plans along this
line are being pitched right now. Our legislators will love the
idea: it shows them as being proactive on national security,
pro-business, anti-virus, anti-spam, and think of the economic
boost from all those forced upgrades and conversions. Heck, it's
tech boom all over again.
Keep your eyes and ears open. If you see anything that
even vaguely smells like this, report it and try to counter it. I
don't think I'm off base here.. though I would love to
I can absolutely see our legislators getting scared and doing
something dumb like this. Of course enforcement would be difficult,
but it would drive things underground, and not be pretty.
Businesses are losing money. Home users are losing time. We are
all being suffocated with spam and viri. People are worried about
terrorists attacking key infrastructure targets over the
Our legislators are generally not technically savvy. When
Microsoft tells them that Open Source is dangerous, they listen.
I'm not saying they'll believe it instantly, but sometimes that
doesn't matter in politics: it's not whether you do the RIGHT
thing, it's whether you do something that makes people think you
are addressing their problems.
Somebody is going to do something, that's for sure. Licensing
operating systems is just the kind of thing governments like doing:
it's revenue, it creates a bureaucracy to set and enforce
standards, it helps the economy by forcing upgrades ( sorry,
OSR5.0.7 is no longer a legal version. You must upgrade before the
end of the year), and it makes everybody feel that we are DOING
And there would be real benefits, too. A lot of the viri crap
spreads because people don't upgrade, don't patch, don't have
firewalls or virus scanning. This wouldn't just be hollow effort;
it would have a positive effect.
But Open Source is vulnerable here. Microsoft has already made
rumblings about the dangers of Open Source; it's all very Orwellian
because we know it's really the opposite that is the problem. There
are rational arguments against the contention that Open Source is
dangerous, but rationality doesn't always work well against fear,
particularly when it's tech babble.
See also Legislation chatter
Copyright August 2003 Tony Lawrence All rights reserved
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