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RE: Thought Crime


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RE: Thought Crime
Topic: Society 2:03 pm EST, Dec  7, 2007

k wrote:
I still think that if more tech minded people would bitch up a storm to their congresspeople rather than than bitching up a storm on the internet and then returning to a cave to hack some code, some progress might be made.

Advice to congress is either useful because it helps them understand the issue or useful because it represents political power or useful because it represents money. In this case there aren't enough people who run wifi access points and are going to vote based on this legislation to represent polticial power and these people don't have lots of money to donate to candidates. So only the first point is relevent and with the EFF and other organizations I think the public internet user is pretty well represented there. So, basically, I don't think lack of action is the problem.

I think the problem here is structural.

The news media makes money by praying on people's fears.
Politicians get elected by pandering to those fears.
Politicians like to pander to fears in cost free ways.

In this case there really isn't much else that Congress can easily do to help fight child pornography. They could raise taxes and fund more law enforcement, but thats not easy. This policy change is easy because it doesn't cost them much money and it throws a bone to the child porn fighters. So Congress proceeds in spite of the fact that there are some legitimate objections. Those objections stand in the way of the interests of Congress, and so they are ignored.

The real problem is that this same issue keeps coming up over and over again, and Congress keeps selecting these cost free solutions, and keeps ignoring the objections. Overtime a body of bad policy accumulates to the point where you're fining a coffee shop owner $300,000 for failing to report the otaku kids to the center for missing and exploited children. You have to pull together a bunch of bad law to get there.

The same thing is going on with copyright. It is astounding to me that the exact same politicians are still ratcheting up penalties year after year. Its become completely insane. But they are still at it, because bit by bit the IP industries get what they want, and they pay for it.

I'm not sure what its going to take to break these cycles. I thought the internet might help... might help people focus on other things than the fear the mass media constantly seeks to breed... I'm not sure anymore...

As to the way the bill was brought, I agree it was fast tracked in a disturbing way, but per the article : "the Democratic leadership rushed the SAFE Act to the floor under a procedure that's supposed to be reserved for noncontroversial legislation." I'm not sure if they're using some kind of official Congress-defined usage of "noncontroversial" or not, but if I may apply, post facto, the results of the vote (that'd be only 2 Nays), it would appear to at least meet the dictionary definition of the term, provided you accept that our representatives do actually represent our voices.

I think he means non-controversial among policy wonks rather than non-controversial among politicians. He is arguing that the political vote occured before the wonks had time to reach concensus about the details. Oh well, I guess there is always the conference committee...

RE: Thought Crime

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