[unrev-II] Fwd: [PORT-L] Security Systems Standards and Certification Act

From: Jack Park (jackpark@thinkalong.com)
Date: Sat Sep 22 2001 - 08:46:19 PDT

  • Next message: Peter Jones: "[unrev-II]"

    >X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.78 [en] (Win98; U)
    >X-Accept-Language: en
    >Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 11:22:51 -0400
    >From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@BESTWEB.NET>
    >Subject: [PORT-L] Security Systems Standards and Certification Act
    >Following is some frightening news about proposed legislation
    >that is very well funded by people who want to trample on the
    >First Amendment in the Bill of Rights.
    >John Sowa
    >The Register, http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/21830.html
    >Copy-control senator sleeps while fair-use rights burn
    >By Dan Berkes, Newsforge.com
    >Posted: 22/09/2001 at 09:25 GMT
    >Picture a future where distributing Linux is a crime punishable by a
    >hefty fine and a prison sentence. If that sounds ridiculous, then you
    >haven't run into the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act.
    >It's the very latest - and most bizarre - word in political back-
    >scratching from one of South Carolina's U.S. senators. And he'd
    >rather not talk about it, thank you very much.
    >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 that adhere to the
    >security systems standards adopted under section 104. This is the heart
    >of the new Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA), a
    >draft of legislation proposed by U.S. Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings,
    >a Democrat from South Carolina.
    >Yes, it is vague, and perhaps intentionally so. The SSSCA raises a
    >number of questions, none of which its politically powerful sponsor
    >feels compelled to answer.
    >Repeated calls to Hollings' office were routed to voicemail or message-
    >takers, and on two occasions, an individual who was unable to do
    >anything - including providing his name - other than repeat the phrase
    >"I'm simply not qualified to comment on this matter," to any question I
    >asked until I hung up the phone.
    >What is the ominous-sounding section 104, with its security systems
    >standards? According to the draft legislation, the companies that
    >make digital devices and the companies that own copyright content are
    >expected to sit down together and, within 12 months of the SSSCA's
    >passage, come to an agreement on copy-protection standards.
    >If what these two camps agree on passes muster with the Department of
    >Commerce, eventually compliant copy-protected devices will be created
    >using those standards. If, after two years (Commerce can extend the
    >deadline by another 12 months) the two parties can't agree, then the
    >Department of Commerce can create its own legally-binding standards.
    >When calling Hollings' office, I merely wanted to know the answers to
    >the following questions:
    >- What, exactly, is a digital device? Are we talking about just
    >computers, or are we talking about computers, plus MP3 players,
    >television sets, and VCRs? Are we talking about everything digital, and
    >does that mean that the next alarm clock I buy will have to prohibit
    >copying, even if was never intended for that use in the first place?
    >- How will this affect fair use provisions that currently allow copying
    >of recordings I own for my personal use? Will the argument be that I'm
    >still allowed to make such copies if I can find a pre-SSSCA device, but
    >if I buy such a device from, say, a secondhand store, will that land the
    >shopkeeper (not to mention me) in jail?
    >- And yeah, what about Linux? How do you make the operating system,
    >where every column inch of source code is available for inspection,
    >SSSCA compliant?
    >I think this may be a self-answering question: You can't - not unless
    >some drastic changes to current licenses and code distribution are made.
    >If there's a certain level of paranoia in Hollings' office regarding
    >the SSSCA, perhaps it's understandable. From all perspectives, this is
    >nothing more than a blatant attempt to offer a return on investment to
    >campaign donors.
    >As the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, one of the most
    >important committee chairs on Capitol Hill, Hollings has attracted quite
    >a stable of high-profile donors over the years. According to Federal
    >Election Commission data presented by campaign contribution watchdog
    >Open Secrets, there are five major media and entertainment companies in
    >the top 20 list of Hollings' most generous campaign donors. They
    >include AOL Time Warner ($33,500), the Murdoch-owned News Corporation
    >($28,224), Viacom's CBS ($16,632), the National Association of
    >Broadcasters ($22,000), and Walt Disney Co. ($18,500).
    >The individual donors from those companies include a flock of high-
    >ranking executives from various News Corp/Fox subsidiaries, Viacom CEO
    >Sumner Redstone, and Ted Turner from AOL Time Warner. Since 1995,
    >employees from companies producing television, movies, music, and other
    >media content have sent Hollings $287,534, making the entertainment
    >industry his second most generous supporters. Those individual
    >donations look like small potatoes, especially when you find out that
    >they cover the past five to six years of campaign contributions.
    >It's illegal for corporations to spend money on federal elections, and
    >individual donors aren't allowed to to contribute more than $1,000 to
    >a candidate for federal office, or more than $20,000 per year to a
    >political party. Not that this stops anyone from doing it, and doing
    >it legally through something known as soft money.
    >Soft money has been around since 1978, when a Federal Election
    >Commission made an administrative ruling that allowed money to be
    >donated to political organizations for the purpose of building party
    >structure. The activity and the money that fueled it was never intended
    >to be used to influence the outcome of a federal election. The only
    >problem is that the FEC has no power to investigate where soft money is
    >applied once it enters the political machine.
    >And it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, hard to figure out
    >what AOL Time Warner and Disney want when each donated over $1 million
    >last year to the major American political parties. Nor does it take
    >a cluster of Linux supercomputers to figure out that such money may
    >eventually wind up being spent by the more connected members of that
    >party - the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, for example.
    >Even with such staunch support from the nation's media giants, they're
    >only number two on Hollings' list of top givers broken down by industry.
    >The top spot goes to a combination of lawyers, law firms, and
    >influential lobbyist groups. Individual supporters include legal eagles
    >from Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson, and Hand ($28,508) who
    >represent virtually every major sports league and the Academy of Motion
    >Picture Arts and Sciences; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flohm
    >($2,500), who currently have their hands full with representing Compaq's
    >side of its $25 billion merger with Hewlett-Packard.
    >And then there's Tony Podesta's high-profile lobbying firm, which
    >represents such friends of fair use as RIAA and the MPAA. Taking up
    >the rear are individual donations from lawyers, many with experience in
    >technology and intellectual property litigation. It's important to
    >remember that the SSSCA is a draft of a bill that may or may not be
    >introduced in both houses of Congress. Unfortunately, it's a draft
    >that's just gained a sponsor in the House of Representatives. The good
    >news from many watchdog groups is that the bill, in its current state,
    >isn't expected to get past committee. The bad news is that some parts
    >of it will likely survive or be resurrected in any number of other bills
    >that could be introduced in the next Congressional session.
    >Now sure, I can understand that perhaps our Congressional leaders are
    >little preoccupied, what with last week's events. And I don't mean to
    >vulgarize or trivialize that tragedy, but it's times like these when our
    >elected leaders should be under the most intense scrutiny. Unpleasant
    >regulatory surprises have a way of sneaking in the back door when the
    >voting public is otherwise engaged.

    ------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor ---------------------~-->
    Pinpoint the right security solution for your company- Learn how to add 128- bit encryption and to authenticate your web site with VeriSign's FREE guide!

    Community email addresses:
      Post message: unrev-II@onelist.com
      Subscribe: unrev-II-subscribe@onelist.com
      Unsubscribe: unrev-II-unsubscribe@onelist.com
      List owner: unrev-II-owner@onelist.com

    Shortcut URL to this page:

    Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Sat Sep 22 2001 - 08:38:39 PDT