Saturday, April 08, 2006

Following-up on the end of the internet...

The title link goes to an article in the Oklahoma Gazette detailing a new proposal in the House of Representatives. Apparently, this is what we have to look forward to with the death of the Net Neutrality Act. The law, questionably called the Computer Spyware Protection Act (the text of its bigger brother in the Senate), would permit software companies like Microsoft, internet service providers, celluar phone companies, and really anyone else with the appropriate software, to access the harddrive on your personal computer while you are using it. While the law requires the "consent" of the end user, these consent provisions will likely be buried in the End User License agreement (EULA). The EULA is the license agreement that controls the way the end user may legally use the software. Usually, this is the long text document that you are required to read prior installing almost any software. Basically, you would have to permit this sort of access to your computer by installing Windows, or any other software that fits the bill. Effectively, Microsoft could access your computer and delete spyware or viruses. Interestingly enough, it could also target and delete "pirated" music, videos, or other Microsoft software.

While operating under the guise of protecting privacy, this law would allow unfettered access to personal information. There also does not appear to be any definition of what constitutes material that software companies could delete from a personal computer. The worst part is the end user agrees, so there is NO recourse for the end user if a software company deletes material that is otherwise not in violation of any definition of pirated software, maleware, spyware, or a computer virus. Say so long to computers as you know them. If this bill passes, not only will it cause the end of the internet as we now know it, but also the end of personal computer privacy. This kind of "shrink wrap" license contract is, at best, unconscionable. Write your representative from the house and let them know the ramifications of passing this bill!

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