The bill says:
"it is unlawful to manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide or
otherwise traffic in any interactive digital device that does not include
and utilize certified security technologies."
Senator Fritz Hollings will testify about his proposed SSSCA legislation
before the Senate Commerce Committee on October 25. While the Open Source
community is acquainted with the potential effects of this bill on freedom
from government intrusion on our private activities, many businesses that
use Open Source software, government agencies who sponsor Open Source
projects, and lawyers who specialize in technology issues either have not
heard of the bill, or do not understand its implications.
Eben Moglen, chief counsel for the Free Software Foundation, is succinct:
"SSSCA is a deliberate attempt to destroy free software." Moglen believes
that the industries behind the drafting of the SSSCA want to control
information from the beginning to the end of every event chain. "The
content industries want to make a leakproof pipe that leads from their
production facility directly to the eyeball and eardrum of the consumer."
That pipeline must not be broken apart by any technology that is under the
user's control, he says. "If the computer closest to your eyeball and
eardrum has a free software operating system, the whole rest of the pipe
doesn't matter: sound on its way to the sound card, or video on its way to
the screen, can be copied or sent anywhere by the OS kernel. "So the
content industries cannot -- so long as they adhere to their present
obsolete business models -- tolerate the existence of any user-modifiable
operating system for computers. Period." And that's what's behind Disney's
and other corporations' campaign contributions to Hollings and their
subsequent "urging" that Hollings, the chairman of the Senate Commerce
Committee, draft the Security Systems Standards and Certification bill,
which states in part that "it is unlawful to manufacture, import, offer to
the public, provide or otherwise traffic in any interactive digital device
that does not include and utilize certified security technologies." And
while Disney interests may be completely aware of the subtleties behind the
SSSCA, Hollings may be unaware of the chain of effects this could set off.
"Although I cannot comment on the technical acuity of Senator Hollings,"
says Pat Stakem, a NASA consultant who works with FlightLinux, a version of
Linux that's running on unmanned space flights, "there have been problems
in the past with oversight and unintended consequences when a highly
technical issue is legislated."
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Sat Oct 20 2001 - 09:08:08 PDT