The internet seems to ignore legislation until somebody tries to take something away from us... then we carefully defend that one thing and never counter-attack. Then the other side says, "OK, compromise," and gets half of what they want. That's not the way to win... that's the way to see a steady and continuous erosion of rights online.
The solution is to start lobbying for our own laws. It's time to go on the offensive if we want to preserve what we've got. Let's force the RIAA and MPAA to use up all their political clout just protecting what they have. Here are some ideas we should be pushing for:
* Elimination of software patents
* Legal fees paid by the loser in patent cases; non-practicing entities must post bond before they can file fishing expedition lawsuits
* Roll back length of copyright protection to the minimum necessary "to promote the useful arts." Maybe 10 years?
* Create a legal doctrine that merely linking is protected free speech
* And ponies. We want ponies. We don't have to get all this stuff. We merely have to tie them up fighting it, and re-center the "compromise" position.
The dismal corruption of congress has gotten it to the point where lobbying for legislation is out of control. As Larry Lessig has taught us, the core rottenness originates from the high cost of running political campaigns, which mostly just goes to TV stations.
A solution is for the Internet industry to start giving free advertising to political campaigns on our own new media assets... assets like YouTube that are rapidly displacing television. Imagine if every political candidate had free access (under some kind of "equal time" rule) to enough advertising inventory on the Internet to run a respectable campaign. Sure, candidates can still pay to advertise on television, but the cost of campaigning would be a lot lower if every candidate could run geo-targeted pre-roll ads on YouTube, geo-targeted links at the top of Reddit.com, even targeted campaigns on Facebook. If the Internet can donate enough inventory (and I suspect we can), we can make it possible for a candidate to get elected without raising huge war chests from donors who are going to want something in return, and we may finally get to a point where every member of congress isn't in permanent outstretched-hand mode.
I just came across this story:
Google’s Broken Promise: The End of "Don’t Be Evil"
BY MAT HONAN
JAN 24, 2012
I have to confess that I find the furor to be overblown.
Collecting data isn't evil. It's the currency of the future, a currency that we provide in order to buy useful services, many of which can ONLY be provided if that data is aggregated and analyzed and made relevant. There are evil things that you can do with that data, but just collecting it isn't evil. I wish people would avoid the linkbait headlines unless they have evidence that Google is actually doing bad things with that data.
If you want an example of a company that is doing "evil", consider Apple. I was horrified when I heard Mike Daisey, author of the one-man show "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," talking on This American Life about working conditions in the factories that make the iPhone and iPad, and Apple's tepid monitoring of those conditions. When a company has $98 billion in cash, and profits of tens of billions of dollars each quarter, does it really need to squeeze every last cent out of manufacturing costs?
The account of how Apple's factories substituted n-hexane, a neurotoxin with well-documented long term adverse health effects, for alcohol to wipe those shining screens clean, gaining a miniscule advantage in drying time but exposing workers to a lifetime of disablement, nearly brought me to tears.
That's evil. Of course, Apple never promised to do no evil, so they get a free pass.
Journalists should listen to this episode, and then write about that, please:
Update: The point of this post was not to excuse Google by saying Apple is worse. It was to draw a distinction between the potential for harm (Google is collecting all this data, and that could be bad) and actual harm (Apple - and just about every other company making cheap electronics - is countenancing incredibly bad labor practices that do real damage to people, right now.) There are many things that Google does that I consider as violations of its "Don't be evil" mantram (including profiting from ads from content farms, spammers, IP thieves, et al), but collecting and analyzing user data isn't one of them. I'd be delighted to hear about and spread the word about actual violations of user privacy on Google's part that are causing actual harm. But alarmism about what they might do, given how much data they have, isn't a case of actual harm, and doesn't make Google "evil".
- P'unk AvenueDeveloper, 2012 - present
- ableGrayPartner, 2005 - present
- Arcadia UniversityWeb Developer, 2008 - 2012
- Drexel UniversityFacility Manager, 2004 - 2008
- Arcadia University2008 - 2011
- Drexel University
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