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Why Politicians Should Never Make Laws About Technology

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the internet-is-a-series-of-tubes dept.

Government 214

snydeq writes "As the world gets more and more technical, we can't let Luddites decide the fate of dangerous legislation like SOPA, writes Deep End's Paul Venezia. 'Very few politicians get technology. Many actually seem proud that they don't use the Internet or even email, like it's some kind of badge of honor that they've kept their heads in the sand for so long. These are the same people who will vote on noxious legislation like SOPA, openly dismissing the concerns and facts presented by those who know the technology intimately. The best quote from the SOPA debates: "We're operating on the Internet without any doctors or nurses on the room." That is precisely correct,' Venezia writes. 'The best we can do for the short term is to throw everything we can behind legislation to reinstate the Office of Technology Assessment. From 1974 through 1995, this small group with a tiny budget served as an impartial, nonpartisan advisory to the U.S. Congress on all matters technological.'"

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214 comments

Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578900)

This simple act underscored a problem possibly bigger than SOPA: the fact that as with far too many of our elected officials, technology legislation isn't even on his radar.

I don't think you understand SOPA. SOPA isn't a problem with Technology. It's not going to physically break the backbone routers we need for the internet. It's not going to present technological challenges. What it's going to do that is a problem is rape free speech [eff.org] , make user-generated content (like what I'm doing right now) nearly impossible and on par with China's arcane policies [nytimes.com] as well as a number of other things. It threatens uploading content, it threatens internal networks, it threatens open source software, it threatens DNS, DNSSEC and internet security. And the worst part is that it's going to be completely ineffective at what it aims to do!

You don't need to understand technology to read the pieces on how this is a direct assault on free speech. Screw their understanding of technology, frame this piece of shit legislation as a direct assault on basic civil liberties! Let them chisel into stone memos about their dry cleaning, who cares if they don't use e-mail. Just make sure they understand that this is first and foremost diametrically opposed to free speech when you simply consider the internet as a means of communication and expression!

The best we can do for the short term is to throw everything we can behind legislation to reinstate the OTA (Office of Technology Assessment). From 1974 through 1995, this small group with a tiny budget served as an impartial, nonpartisan advisory to the U.S. Congress on all matters technological.

Another government office or agency? Man, don't we have enough of that bullshit as it is? I think you're deflecting and focusing on something that will sidetrack us from getting this crap shut down. Call your representative and senators and tell them that you feel that your First Amendment Rights are being threatened by H.R. 3261 and forget trying to lecture them about how DNSSEC works.

You want to effectively stop this? Here's a commercial I'd like to see Google air on national TV:

*woman sits behind bars with a look of remorse on her face*
Woman: I uploaded a video less than half a minute long of my toddler dancing to music on Youtube [arstechnica.com] .
*clip of cute toddler jamming out to some pop music plays*
Woman: The video went viral. Then I received a letter in the mail from lawyers saying I owed them the cost of that song for every view. Instead of just taking it down, I'm now in a criminal lawsuit facing bankruptcy and jail time. Please call your representative to stop SOPA and prevent this from happening to thousands of people.

Fight fire with fire, 15 second ad. Let's see it, Google.

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579038)

Which networks will air this? All those ones that don't support SOPA?

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579048)

Which networks will air this? All those ones that don't support SOPA?

All those that would accept a big fat paycheck and run the ad for Google's dough before caring about whether or not SOPA would pass. So probably all of them.

Let's generalize: (2, Funny)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579618)

"Why Politicians Should Never Make Laws"

Because history shows they consistently do it WRONG.

Re:Let's generalize: (1)

wiedzmin (1269816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580002)

So, would you care to do it right then? Just playing devil's advocate here...

Re:Let's generalize: (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580146)

False dichotomy, you left out another option: nobody making laws.

Not that I believe this would work better.

Re:Let's generalize: (1)

wiedzmin (1269816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580234)

I don't think this is possible in human society. Even anarchists have laws.

Re:Let's generalize: (3, Interesting)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580378)

I didn't say having no laws, I said making no laws. We already have plenty of laws, so if from now on nobody made them.

Re:Let's generalize: (4, Insightful)

wiedzmin (1269816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580592)

Very controversial notion, granted, but again it wouldn't work - with new technologies, laws need to change to accommodate them, or you will end-up having to apply telegraph-era laws to quantum computing (or in a more recent scenario - export laws to cloud computing [nationaljournal.com] )... The problem is not with creating laws in itself, it's with not having qualified subject-matter experts involved in creating said laws. Goes for granting patents as well, as far as I'm concerned.

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (2)

thoughtlover (83833) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580590)

Which networks will air this? All those ones that don't support SOPA?

All those that would accept a big fat paycheck and run the ad for Google's dough before caring about whether or not SOPA would pass. So probably all of them.

Just because you have the money doesn't mean the network will take your ad.

e.g.

ManCrunch SuperBowl Ad REJECTED: Gay Dating Site Ad Denied By CBS (VIDEO)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/28/mancrunch-superbowl-ad-ga_n_440773.html

Affairs Site Ashley Madison Super Bowl Ad Rejected By Fox

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/20/ashley-madison-super-bowl-rejected-fox_n_811512.html

FOX Sports Rejects Super Bowl Ad Featuring John 3:16

http://www.christianpost.com/news/fox-sports-rejects-super-bowl-ad-featuring-john-316-48759/

There's more, but you get the idea...

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (2, Insightful)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579146)

I disagree, it creates a conflict of rights and a loophole allowing people to commit harm to others. That is foolish and irresponsible, but it is not the end of the world or the end of slashdot or the end of free speech. If it is abused, then the conflict of rights will have to be resolved in the courtroom. No matter how badly the courts stumble over it, it won't end up with some doomsday "zomg we're China" xenophobic nonsense.

Xenophobia? Are You Insane? (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579268)

I disagree, it creates a conflict of rights and a loophole allowing people to commit harm to others. That is foolish and irresponsible, but it is not the end of the world or the end of slashdot or the end of free speech.

When did I say it was the end of the world, the end of Slashdot or the end of free speech? And, yes, it could affect my Slashdot posting as I might inform you that I have parodied Dr. Suess and movies and songs in my posts. Should a rights holder decide that those are too close to their original material or even just decide that I probably couldn't defend their lawsuit, they could sue me instead of issuing a DMCA and demanding it be taken down.

If it is abused, then the conflict of rights will have to be resolved in the courtroom.

Well, unfortunately, those with the most money often win in the courtroom and which side do you think is going to predominantly be the big dog? The conglomeration of all record labels known as the RIAA? Or the single mother?

No matter how badly the courts stumble over it, it won't end up with some doomsday "zomg we're China" xenophobic nonsense.

Wow, if you think my criticism of an oppressive tool such as the Great Firewall of China is xenophobic then you truly are ignorant. Don't you get it, I want to help the Chinese people enjoy the freedom to say and read whatever the hell they want! I want the Chinese people to enjoy the freedoms I enjoy like being able to say "Fuck the United States Government and that wasteful war in Iraq" while being a citizen and not worry that there is a death van awaiting me on my return to my home tonight. That's not xenophobia, you idiot! It's a desire for freedom! I suffer from oppressive-government-phobia!

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (4, Insightful)

mgiuca (1040724) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579240)

I don't think you understand SOPA. SOPA isn't a problem with Technology. ... It threatens uploading content, it threatens internal networks, it threatens open source software, it threatens DNS, DNSSEC and internet security. ... You don't need to understand technology to read the pieces on how this is a direct assault on free speech.

Unfortunately, yes, you do. You just listed four highly technical terms, and explaining how SOPA is going to break those things does require a highly technical understanding. So I believe the original article is absolutely right that the problem is politicians not understanding technology.

Screw their understanding of technology, frame this piece of shit legislation as a direct assault on basic civil liberties! Let them chisel into stone memos about their dry cleaning, who cares if they don't use e-mail. Just make sure they understand that this is first and foremost diametrically opposed to free speech when you simply consider the internet as a means of communication and expression!

But they don't consider the Internet as a means of communication and expression. If they are chiseling into stone tablets, then SOPA isn't going to affect them. To them, the Internet is that thing that lets pirates get films for free, and the MPAA has told them that's wrong. Again, the problem is that they don't understand that the Internet is free speech in one of its purest forms, and this will strangle the Internet.

*woman sits behind bars with a look of remorse on her face*

There's a website along these lines: Free Justin Beiber [freebieber.org] .
I agree, a 15 second ad would be great.

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580226)

Come on, politicians aren't all cavemen recently defrozen either. The average age of a member of the House is less than 60, and they didn't come from the Amish either. While I don't doubt most don't understand how most of the technology works behind the scenes, there's no reason to assume they're that ignorant about how the Internet enables Free Speech and how dangerous a tool like SOPA will be.

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (1)

mgiuca (1040724) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580766)

I consider SOPA a reason to assume they're ignorant about it, if nothing else. You might attribute that to malice. ("Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.") I think it's a mixture of both.

I don't doubt that these politicians have been completely bought out by the likes of the MPAA, and that they are acting in the interests of lobbying groups. But at the same time, I also don't think they have a clue, for example, what we mean when we say "SOPA will break DNSSEC," and nor do they care.

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (2)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579358)

I don't think you understand SOPA. SOPA isn't a problem with Technology. It's not going to physically break the backbone routers we need for the internet. It's not going to present technological challenges. What it's going to do that is a problem is rape free speech [eff.org], make user-generated content (like what I'm doing right now) nearly impossible and on par with China's arcane policies [nytimes.com] as well as a number of other things. It threatens uploading content, it threatens internal networks, it threatens open source software, it threatens DNS, DNSSEC and internet security. And the worst part is that it's going to be completely ineffective at what it aims to do!

Phew! I was worried about that for a second, and then you mentioned it would be ineffective at what it aims to do. I guess I have nothing to worry about then!

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (5, Insightful)

mounthood (993037) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579518)

... it's going to be completely ineffective at what it aims to do!

Phew! I was worried about that for a second, and then you mentioned it would be ineffective at what it aims to do. I guess I have nothing to worry about then!

The War on Drugs is ineffective at stopping drugs. That doesn't mean it's without consequences, or should be ignored.

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (1)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579848)

This. 1,000,000 times this.

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579382)

Just make sure they understand that this is first and foremost diametrically opposed to free speech when you simply consider the internet as a means of communication and expression!

The more legislators that understand it for what it is - the elimination of free speech - the more likely it is that it passes.

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (4, Insightful)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579386)

Does your mom understand SOPA as well as you do? The point of the article is that (a) our moms and dads don't understand current technology, and (b) their generation are the ones creating and passing legislation.

If you think SOPA is bad, then consider the fact that the next 10 technology-related bills in Congress could be worse.

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (5, Interesting)

grcumb (781340) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579410)

I don't think you understand SOPA. SOPA isn't a problem with Technology.

You're exactly right. SOPA is the mere exercise of bare power. The problem is not the politicians' ignorance; they know full well what they're doing. The problem is that they don't care. They've gone to the well for campaign funding, and this is the bucket they brought the water back in. It's really that simple. Technical considerations don't even get a look in.

It threatens uploading content, it threatens internal networks, it threatens open source software, it threatens DNS, DNSSEC and internet security.

"So?" asked the Congressman, "What did FOSS, DNS and DNSSEC ever do for me?"

There are only two levers that can change a congressman's mind: Votes and money. The money (to buy the votes) is behind SOPA right now, so that's where he'll be found.

What needs to be made clear to him, therefore, is that no amount of money is going to be enough to save his seat. And rather than wait for election day (which will be too late), take a lesson from the Tea Party and primary the fucker. 'Tis the season, after all....

Putting together a well-organised campaign to get delegates up in arms about an issue as basic and important as this is neither too hard nor too expensive. Find a clear-eyed, presentable spokesperson who can explain the problem in a nutshell, and start working on your local party committee members to back him. You don't (necessarily) need to get your person (s)elected even. Long before that, you can be sure that your candidate will have a moment of epiphany where suddenly the problem becomes clear and his position switches accordingly.

This approach can't easily be countered by lobbyists, because they don't have a significant presence outside of Washington, they don't know the local ground nearly as well as you do, and they simply don't have enough money allocated to counter every primary challenge.

Tactically, this is insurgency warfare. Look to Iraq and Afghanistan for some indication of its effectiveness.

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (2)

The Snowman (116231) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580526)

What needs to be made clear to him, therefore, is that no amount of money is going to be enough to save his seat. And rather than wait for election day (which will be too late), take a lesson from the Tea Party and primary the fucker. 'Tis the season, after all....

Since when do incumbents face primaries? I've heard about it for very unpopular candidates, where even their own party won't back them for reelection, but not otherwise. I could be wrong -- I'm not trying to be a dick, I am curious.

I think you have the right idea though, issues like this need popular support. That is very difficult to do given the size and population density in this country.

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (1)

fpoling (2535392) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580722)

There are only two levers that can change a congressman's mind: Votes and money.

Unfortunately in US political life votes becoming less and less important. Why care for reelection if the lobby promises sweet positions in the corresponding industry or will pay millions for lectures or for writing book etc. just after two years in the Congress?

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (2)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579822)

try making DNSSEC work in a SOPA world. How about the fact that the fundamental enforcement tool is to perform a mandated man in the middle attack on DNS. that is pretty fucked up and breaks the internet.

What will happen is these criminals will simply move to a more robust DNS solution and a new internet will be born which makes it nearly impossible for the powerful to stomp out.

Silk road anyone?

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580242)

DNSSEC works fine in a SOPA world: the ISP can just drop the reply instead of forging it. The end result is the same.

CORE PROBLEM? (2)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580392)

CAPTURED BY INDUSTRY.

Reinstating OTA won't solve the problem, when the office will be populated by revolving-door industry flacks, just as regulatory agencies are, today.

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580470)

Since it's a simple concept, someone should actually make the video you described, so that the techies can send it to the lay people to help them to understand why SOPA is bad...

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (1)

im3w1l (2009474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580534)

Another problem that should be identified is that the people understanding technology are libertarian aspies unwilling to compromise. "No we have to have absolute freedom, we can never give up _anything_. Fuck you we'll move our servers to Sealand nenene try to stop me trololol".

By taking this immature all-or-nothing stance, we are rapidly approaching the latter.

Don't take this the wrong way, I'm all for EFF et al's campaigning. It is just that we, as a group have way to few vocal moderates.

Re:Author Misidentifies Core Problems with SOPA (1)

jbp1 (1179795) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580586)

"like it's some kind of badge of honor that they've kept their heads in the sand for so long" i knew politician's brains were made of shit, but i did not realize their asses were made of sand

You could make this argument about all laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578934)

There is no subject where at least one of the arguments to be found isn't true, and probably multiple ones.

Re:You could make this argument about all laws (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578976)

Bingo. Politiicans know practically nothing about anything other than getting re-elected, which is why most Western nations are just about bankrupt right now.

Re:You could make this argument about all laws (5, Interesting)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579706)

Bingo. Politiicans know practically nothing about anything other than getting re-elected, which is why most Western nations are just about bankrupt right now.

Once you understand that then politicians become very easy to train. They respond as reliably as Pavlov's dogs to the right positive and negative reinforcement. You can do it with money, or you can do it with grassroots. Grassroots is more work, and there has been far to much complacency by the constituent population of late, which is why money is winning so often. But it doesn't have to be like that. Very small amounts of money and an informed, involved, and organized group can actually do it better.

Groups like Demand Progress, Campaign for Liberty, Fight for the Future, EFF Activism, and many other groups (even the 9/12 Project is mobilizing on this) understand that dynamic. They know how to apply pressure, and most of them also know how to follow up during election time to back up their promises.

And that's why things like the DISCLOSE act (and other efforts sold as "campaign finance") are so popular in Congress but despised by grassroots activists. They don't really take money out of politics, they serve to enhance the role of money and make things really difficult for small issue-advocacy groups. Especially when it comes time to remind voters of all the bad things the incumbents voted for while in office.

Because people are waking up to the issues in Washington, more and more people are finally starting to get involved. The politicians don't like that, because it can cause bad press (negative reinforcement), challenges during elections (negative reinforcement), and other bad consequences.

Don't blame politicians for behaving that way - they don't have souls.

Re:You could make this argument about all laws (3, Insightful)

Lexx Greatrex (1160847) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580662)

Because people are waking up to the issues in Washington, more and more people are finally starting to get involved. The politicians don't like that, because it can cause bad press (negative reinforcement), challenges during elections (negative reinforcement), and other bad consequences.

Don't blame politicians for behaving that way - they don't have souls.

I think you have struck on key issue... Politicians don't like the idea of a free Internet, they just don't fully understand why right now. The answer is pretty simple, people engaging with each other via social media leads to a population less tolerant of soundbytes and rhetoric. As society becomes more involved in the issues, it demands greater accountability. An activist is born when a personal connection is made to an issue. I for one view SOPA and PIPA as a personal affront to my liberty and will not be satisfied by a hearty speech or weasel words of justification or apology. I want Congress to reject the notion that the US Government has the authority to eliminate free speech anywhere in the world without due process. Especially given that the approval rating for Congress is hovering around 11%, meaning they do not have a mandate to act "for the people" in any case. It remains to be seen if the President is going to act responsibly and veto these bills or kowtow to Congress like he did with by signing in the NDAA [guardian.co.uk] -- another liberty smasher that he passed into law while the world was celebrating New Year's eve. The TV channels may not be interested, but politicians can't escape the scrutiny of an entire population via the Internet... at least until they make social media nonviable by enacting something like SOPA, of course.

Why no IT union? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38578974)

Why is there no union for information technology workers? They control the keys that run this world, they have more power than to know what to do with. Where is their VOICE?

Re:Why no IT union? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579186)

Unions are organizations whose primary purpose is to protect the jobs of individuals who could be either easily replaced or marginalized. Most IT folk either operate under the idea that are uniquely skilled, their replacement would be cost prohibitive, or that the job for which they are working is temporary. In all of those cases, there is no reason to organize towards job security. What does help and provides a voice toward information technology workers, are political advocacy groups, such as the Electronics Frontier Foundation.

Re:Why no IT union? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579550)

If the job of a union is to protect jobs, they utterly fail. Private sector union jobs have fallen quite a bit the past few decades. Public sector unions are probably peaking, as non-union taxpayers begin to rebel against having their paychecks pick-pocketed by the DemocRAT machine.

Re:Why no IT union? (1)

MichaelKristopeit501 (2018074) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580174)

i don't want to be a part of a union full of the ignorant hypocrites that frequent this internet website chat room message board.

my VOICE is in MY MOUTH.

why do you cower? what are you afraid of?

you're completely pathetic.

Re:Why no IT union? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580386)

The UK has a Communication Workers Union.

So does the USA. There are several others.

The problem is not the lack of unions. The problem is the media machine that gets people to believe a union is evil, and that the work isn't important, but instead that the workers are lazy leeches.

I'm sure some are. But so are politicians and CEOs.

Go figure.

Rephrase: Politicians should never make laws (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38578990)

The Greek "politicians" were actually philosophers. They knew they didn't understand everything, so arguments were structured to expose their own ignorance through the statement of assumptions: "Assuming X is true."

This inevitably can lead to more discussion about whether the assumptions are valid, but the approach at least documents the process of working through the details of what eventually would become legislation.

Right now politicians make decisions based on ideology and dogma, not on logic and reasoning. At a bare minimum, Parliament and Congress should be held to a philosophical evaluation of law that starts with "Assuming the Constitution is true" and "Assuming the Charter of Rights is valid". Those foundational documents should always be the core of testing the validity of an argument for encoding something as law.

As long as politicians are chosen by a popularity contest instead of an assessment of their skills, experience, and knowledge, that leads me to conclude that politicians should not make laws at all.

Instead, they should be responsible for collecting evidence from the public, industry, and others concerned about the legislation they propose to prove it's good legislation meeting the needs of the people, not serving the will of dogma and corporate influence.

Re:Rephrase: Politicians should never make laws (3, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579134)

Heeey, that's dangerous talk, Citizen; someone might hear that and accuse you of ThoughtCrime.

No sweat, though, just head on down to your neighborhood re-education center and we'll scrub those subversive thoughts right out of your cranium!

Re:Rephrase: Politicians should never make laws (2)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579782)

Citizen? How archaic. It is consumer these days...

Now get back to consuming! *whip snap*

Re:Rephrase: Politicians should never make laws (2, Insightful)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579166)

What's funny is that Slashdot and all the other tech blogs was pro-net neutrality all last year, and posters like me who criticized that kind of government intervention were downmodded into oblivion because it went against the opinion of the hivemind. Now with SOPA, people have seen just what it's like when politicians try to regulate the internet from Washington, and suddenly it's cool again to keep politicians away from technology! My head gets dizzy sometimes from the back and forth in trends.

Re:Rephrase: Politicians should never make laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579376)

No, what's funny is that you still don't understand net neutrality or that laws to help it along are actually about regulating the people trying to regulate the Internet, not the Internet itself. If you stop long enough to actually understand this basic part of the argument then you might feel a little less dizzy.

Re:Rephrase: Politicians should never make laws (4, Insightful)

Alphathon (1634555) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579556)

Apples and Oranges. Net neutrality is about regulation of those that deliver the internet (i.e. ISPs) so as to prevent them from, for example, blocking or throttling sites/content from particular providers or that use particular protocols as it suits them. SOPA is about regulating what goes on ON the internet which is entirely separate. Net neutrality is about competition, while SOPA is about content control.

Re:Rephrase: Politicians should never make laws (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579784)

The only problem with the way you think is that you somehow have to combine thousands of disparate opinions into one cohesive whole before your mindset makes a lick of sense. Since those thousands of disparate opinions are not one cohesive whole, guess who's babbling bullshit...

Re:Rephrase: Politicians should never make laws (1)

MichaelKristopeit502 (2018076) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580208)

you're an ignorant hypocrite.

that's not funny at all.

Re:Rephrase: Politicians should never make laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580426)

What's funny is that Slashdot and all the other tech blogs was pro-net neutrality all last year, and posters like me who criticized that kind of government intervention were downmodded into oblivion because it went against the opinion of the hivemind. Now with SOPA, people have seen just what it's like when politicians try to regulate the internet from Washington, and suddenly it's cool again to keep politicians away from technology! My head gets dizzy sometimes from the back and forth in trends.

To claim that there is a contradiction between being anti-SOPA and being pro-net-neutrality is like claiming that it's hypocritical to oppose laws against homosexuality without also opposing laws against rape.

Re:Rephrase: Politicians should never make laws (3, Insightful)

1zenerdiode (777004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579192)

Right now politicians make decisions based on money, not on logic and reasoning.

There. Fixed that for you. Otherwise, I generally agree with you.

Re:Rephrase: Politicians should never make laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579310)

Yes, let's idolize the politicians of ancient Greece, who allowed slavery.

Re:Rephrase: Politicians should never make laws (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579820)

Slavery is like sex. It's perfectly fine if you've given informed consent, which, presumably, you would only do if you felt doing so was worth it. The very mention of it -- again just like sex -- terrifies the politically correct crowd, who specialize in reacting without thinking, but -- again like sex -- there's nothing wrong with the concept. It's all about implementation.

And always remember, the 14th amendment provides the government the authorized power to enslave you. Where do you think your license plates come from?

Re:Rephrase: Politicians should never make laws (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580304)

Consented slavery is an oxymoron. If it's consented, it's not slavery.

Re:Rephrase: Politicians should never make laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579408)

At a bare minimum, Parliament and Congress should be held to a philosophical evaluation of law that starts with "Assuming the Constitution is true" and "Assuming the Charter of Rights is valid".

How does this differ from congressional review, with today's philosophers sitting it the judge's seat? I'm not being pedantic, I just want to hear what you think the difference is. (obviously, courts can be political. But then, even Greek philosophers had internal drama...)

Not even that romantic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579584)

politicians make decisions based on ideology and dogma

It's not even that romantic. The people who run the business of government make decisions based on money. The question is whether we can admit it, or whether we will continue to repeat "for the people" like unthinking zombies.

half right (4, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580104)

"As long as politicians are chosen by a popularity contest instead of an assessment of their skills, experience, and knowledge..."

wait... who is making that assessment? all you have introduced is another corruptible source of power. "We have found politician XYZ to be without skills because we got $15M in our bank accounts to say so." i know what you are talking about in theory, but in practice, you are just introducing another point of failure and corruption in the power structure. there is only one valid source of power: the people. so only they should determine who rules them via, i'm sorry, a popularity contest. not because they always vote with the best intelligence and interests. but because any other source of arbiting power is worse

"Instead, they should be responsible for collecting evidence from the public, industry, and others concerned about the legislation they propose..."

and this is exactly right. they don't know everything. but they know how to assemble bright minds to help them decide. unfortunately, the concept of bright minds helping them decide is being replaced by pay-to-play in our democracy-rapidly-becoming-plutocracy

Re:half right (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580784)

This is why I suggested this [ycombinator.com] :
"Actually, randomly selecting people from a state or province, similar to a lottery draw, may be a better idea. The key is to make sure it is a large variety of people."

OTA (1, Troll)

jfb2252 (1172123) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579032)

Killed by Newt Gingrich in 1995.

Re:OTA (1)

plover (150551) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579222)

Of course it was killed. It was non-partisan. Anything that reduced separation of the parties got in the way of their real message, which is "elect me, I'm different from them." And in this case, it was a non-partisan board that happened to arrive at recommendations based on reality, rather than politics, which are often at opposing ends of the spectrum.

In today's contentious environment, if you're not with us (meaning if you're not contributing to our campaign), you're an ENEMY OF THE STATE AND MUST BE KILLED. That leaves no room for rational thought.

no doctors or nurses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579052)

They're not even anywhere near a hospital, they're somewhere in the middle of Utah.

Structure. (3, Interesting)

headkase (533448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579072)

The sad fact is that it doesn't matter if there's a resource for politicians to get sound information from to make decisions. With the structure of today's congress/senate what you need are actually lobbyists - lot's of them and bribes, err, campaign donations too!

Look at what happened to Microsoft: they didn't lobby enough and found themselves on the wrong-end of an antitrust suit. Now they lobby enough that that's not a problem anymore.

You're right... (4, Interesting)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579172)

Politicians should never make laws about technology. Which is why machine guns should be free for everyone to own.

Like in Texas. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579302)

Politicians should never make laws about technology. Which is why machine guns should be free for everyone to own.

Re:Like in Texas. (2)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579554)

Like in Texas.

The only state where gun ownership such as you're obviously refferring to that is effective is Arizona. In every other state it appears to be a criminal offense to simply talk about gun ownership, the consequences being that only criminals have guns, and Texas is a consequence of those views. Only in Arizona are people allowed to carry without QUITE AS MANY restrictions as in all the other states.

Re:Like in Texas. (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579720)

Like in Texas.

The only state where gun ownership such as you're obviously refferring to that is effective is Arizona. In every other state it appears to be a criminal offense to simply talk about gun ownership, the consequences being that only criminals have guns, and Texas is a consequence of those views. Only in Arizona are people allowed to carry without QUITE AS MANY restrictions as in all the other states.

I believe New Hampshire is the least strict in the nation regarding gun ownership.

Re:You're right... they should (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580040)

I'm good with that.

What I'd like to know... (3, Interesting)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579176)

Will SOPA affect the usage of the internet for people outside of the USA, but where a recursive DNS query might happen to travel through it (for example, somebody in mexico finding a domain that is based in Canada, or vice versa)?

It's been suggested that people who utilize DNSSEC can simply ignore SOPA, because SOPA explicitly states that nobody is required to make significant changes to their software or facilities to comply with it. Will organizations that use DNSSEC be later dragged into court for "enabling" copyright infringement? Will free software start to also suffer a similar fate?

Will SOPA ultimately lead to additional legislation that will require ISP's to prohibit their users from utilizing foreign DNS servers?

Will SOPA ultimately lead to censorship by IP address, when blocking domain names has been shown to be ineffective? And if so, owing to the lack of available IPv4 address space that can potentially make it inconvenient for somebody to bypass such censorship by switching IP's, will this create delays in supporting widespread IPv6 adoption, where the availability of trillions of IP addresses would make it arguably easier to bypass such censorship?

Politicians' Interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579202)

It's not just making laws for tech, politicians shouldn't be allowed to make laws period. Nobody in parliament houses these days is well educated or informed enough to create laws....they are however good at other things, namely reducing accountability, making TV appearances and looking after the people who pay for their election campaigns. I find it quite alarming that people with no background in any field except politics (whatever that is anyways), accept advise from accountants and lawyers to regulate the lifestyle and influence decisions of the common man.

IMO: more corruption than ignorance (4, Informative)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579224)

Politicians are basically owned by the big money corporations that put the politicians in office. The politicos don't know about tech, and don't care either. The lobbyists write the bills, and the give the bills to the politicians to pass - along with a big campaign contribution, of course.

Do you actually think SOPA started in congress? Some congressmen, all of the sudden, thought it was important to save the content providers?

All the stuff about "politicians don't understand tech well enough to make laws about it" is just silly. Congress doesn't even read the bills it passes, and congress certainly does not write the bills.

All JMHO, of course.

Never let the USA control anything. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579230)

We should move all control of the internet over to the EU og the United Nations.

The USA should not have anything to do with anything.

SOPA is the problem of the people of the united states - as is the "great firewall of china" is the problem of the people of china.

fucksa

But it's OK to make laws about ...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579236)

But of course it's perfectly OK for the same politicians to pass laws about medical care or the environment or whatever radical shibboleth is current these days. And anybody who opposes THOSE laws should be demonized and called a "denier".

How can I use SOPA to wreak havoc? (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579272)

There's a quote by a politician (perhaps a US President) which I can't find exactly, but I can paraphrase it: The best way to expose and destroy an unjust law is by rigorously enforcing it. If anyone knows the exact quote please tell me.

I've always been of the same view. If SOPA passes (I pray it does not), what can I, as an individual, do with it to cause chaos? Could I force Amazon to remove all of my product reviews? Mess with eBay seller feedback? Post copyrighted material in comments on Whitehouse.gov and get the site shut down?

Re:How can I use SOPA to wreak havoc? (1)

FSWKU (551325) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579512)

There's a quote by a politician (perhaps a US President) which I can't find exactly, but I can paraphrase it: The best way to expose and destroy an unjust law is by rigorously enforcing it. If anyone knows the exact quote please tell me.

I've always been of the same view. If SOPA passes (I pray it does not), what can I, as an individual, do with it to cause chaos? Could I force Amazon to remove all of my product reviews? Mess with eBay seller feedback? Post copyrighted material in comments on Whitehouse.gov and get the site shut down?

That's a nice thought, and fine in theory. However, it won't work that way in practice. You see, should SOPA become law, it will be enforced on the little guy when some corporation needs to shake someone down for cash or silence criticism. The politicians who actually vote for it will likely be exempt. Sure, you COULD try to call out a supporter when you see them committing willful infringement, but since they voted FOR the measure, everyone will look the other way. Can't have the lobbyists biting the hand that fed them exactly what they wanted, can we?

Re:How can I use SOPA to wreak havoc? (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579674)

I wasn't talking about using SOPA against pro-SOPA companies. I'm talking about using it against individuals and innocuous websites to cause general chaos. If the law allows it, why not? That's the whole point -- expose the bad law by inflicting terrible consequences upon innocent people.

Re:How can I use SOPA to wreak havoc? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580728)

In that case, you need only sit back and watch it happen as a matter of course. After all, why else would they want such terrible power if not to use it?

Re:How can I use SOPA to wreak havoc? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579598)

Could I force Amazon to remove all of my product reviews?

Why bother with that? Just seize amazon.com. Better yet, take bing.com, since that name is currently being used by someone who supports SOPA.

Unconstitutional law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579324)

SOPA is an unconstitutional law, violating free speech. If it passes, I'd bet all the money I have that it would make it all the way to the Supreme Court and be struck down as unconstitutional.

Technology is a synonym for MONEY (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579338)

Politicians will continue to make laws about technology because `technology` is a synonym for `money` (in one context or another), and there are a whole lot of corporate interests that are concerned with it. Content, delivery (via network or by spectrum), technical labor ... all of these things drive cost/profit one way or another, so expect to see this trend continue.

Nerds to the Rescue of Constitutional Rights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579390)

It is a little slow now that the tech heads are now seeing the cost of staying out of or ignoring what happens to our Constitutional rights. This country has been chipping away at the 2nd Amendment for decades without a minor peep from most of you. Now you run the risk of having your very private world behind the screen invaded in ways worse than any Patriot Act has bothered you and now you get involved? Good luck trying to throw out the tyrants without guns huh, just like our Bill of Rights were written those many years ago. Did you vote on SOPA? I did not, but at the same time I did not vote for any of the gun restrictions in this country that violate the 2nd Amendment. Now that your 1ST Amendment is being restricted through censorship activities you all get all worked up, but again, who is voting on this? This will never come to a vote just like the 2nd Amendment will never come to a vote because we only a democracy for about 1% or 1% of our time (we vote once or twice in a 4 year period). The rest of the time we let our elected officials make the laws they see fit (and money fits very well into their pockets from all these lobbyist and the wealthy). At best we are a plutocracy where the rich make the rules anymore. Who did the government bailout? The already rich. The poor were left on the side of the road and are still there. Good luck now making any significant changes. This is what happens when no one pays attention, just like our politicians have played us for years. Bah Bah Bah

Never heard of this group before.... (1)

Tanuki64 (989726) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579398)

Office of Technology Assessment.

..but since I am not American, this is not really a failure on my part. But I am just wondering... where they somehow involved in the betamax case in 1984? Sensible ruling. Enough reason to get 'disbanded' in 1995.

Re:Never heard of this group before.... (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579500)

Ya if we made it again politicians and lobbiests would just stuff it with their buddies and use it as a means to pass what ever laws they wanted.

Please no committee - and I call BS on quote (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579428)

From 1974 through 1995, this small group with a tiny budget served as an impartial, nonpartisan advisory to the U.S. Congress on all matters technological.

Only bad could come from its reinstatement:
1) "Buy IBM and Microsoft and contract with (insert major defense contractor) and (well-connected Indian body shop) for services - that's all you need to worry about."
2) Usual government bureaucracy means we'll get specs for good technology ten years after consumers have moved on

Very few politicians get technology. Many actually seem proud that they don't use the Internet or even email

I call BS. 1999 wants its quote back. Everyone in Congress and almost every politician with any pull has a smart phone and those use...the Internet and email.

Re:Please no committee - and I call BS on quote (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579542)

Bullshit.
There have been many. many examples of non partisan government agency being of great value.

Yes, it should be reinstated.

That's not what the agency does. Do you now how blindingly stupid and ignorant you sound?

Re:Please no committee - and I call BS on quote (2)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580074)

Do you now how blindingly stupid and ignorant you sound?

Is this your first day? I understand "Blindingly stupid and ignorant" was the second-choice slogan to "News for nerds, stuff that matters."

Broaden your thinking (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579448)

The preceding discussion is based on the term "technology" being used in a very narrow sense. However, the argument still applies when the term is used broadly, and hence to probably 80% of modern life. How many politicians (and lumpen proles) understand enough to make informed decisions about stem cells, oil pipelines, radio spectrum allocation, chemicals, water treatment and distribution, combustion, electrical networks, etc., etc. But yet laws and regulations are passed every day.

The politicians can learn from the medical profession - "First, do no harm." Of course, that rules out about everything.

Paul Venezia Is A Hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579476)

Someone should take away his laptop.

Or folks on /. should at least stop posting links to his drivel.

OF course the should (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579498)

The issue is they aren't informed.

conversely (2)

nomadic (141991) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579532)

Technology experts are frequently completely clueless about the law.

Re:conversely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579762)

Technology experts are frequently completely clueless about the law.

Like most of the population. And your point is...???

The real problem is stupid voters... (5, Interesting)

rs1n (1867908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579544)

Instead of electing educated scientists and engineers (see China) to office, we instead elect people whose qualifications are in social sciences. That is, the politicians we often end up choosing are mostly good at manipulating people with their rhetoric (and the masses fall for it); but they are pretty stupid when it comes to technical details. Furthermore, your average Joe is intimidated by the nerds (hence the term "nerd"). We often say "Oh I suck at math" when that term is brought up, and that is too often the typical response by the average American. We're too proud of being stupid, and then we elect stupid politicians to office to run our country.

Re:The real problem is stupid voters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580420)

Amazingly enough China, with its "engineers" as politicians, already did this and worse.
I think your argument is invalid.

Re:The real problem is stupid voters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580818)

then we elect stupid politicians to office to run our country

That's a stupid comment.

Politicians are funny people ... that FyckUS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579686)

We elect them. The best frame/spin, money can buy, proves they are the right people for the job.
Any well purchased frame/spin can prove that god loves bible-thumpers, that patriotic rhetoric is alive, freedom is a valuable word, and we're number one!

Bible-thumpers read very little, spew bullshit rhetoric, low the word freedom, and are pissed at the world for not making them rich. Politicians, C*Os, and clergy are very happy to take any money given them, money for bailout, added fees, robber-baron laws and then bless you with more patronizing words. Not all politicians are bad, just the vast majority that fickUS day2day, decade2decade and make any good educated patriotic citizen a criminal.

Air travel, bill paying, credit/loan rates, fee-fines ... are just another way to inflate stock value and prove capitalism died 20 years ago with trickle-down-economics to reward the new communist/fascist/loan-sharks ....

Most governance/laws benefits politicians, C*Os, clergy ... and Fucks US.
Most governance/laws should benefit the people in education, science, innovation, personal freedom with security. BUT that would be un-christian, un-american, un-profitable ....

Or you can elect Ron Paul (1)

Sean (422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579690)

The whole point of SOPA is to control you. Your current government just can't allow you to continue engaging in free speech. Enough of you might find out what your overlords are up to and vote them all out.

Sure, Ron Paul is against the idea of "net neutrality". That means big corporations can screw around with your traffic. But remember, if evil ISPs mess with user traffic it only opens them up to fierce competition in the most profitable markets: High density urban areas.

Or you can continue to support, either actively or by your own apathy, the existing establishment who will in time make your internet resemble the Chinese version.

Re:Or you can elect Ron Paul (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580468)

Amusing, but has nothing to do with how the unfree market works in the US. Local monopoly arrangements at county/city level ensure there's a maximum of 1 real broadband competitor in nearly all markets. Voting with your feet isn't a sane option for people who have a home, local job, family and friends they wish to maintain.

Libertarians are in favor of contract trumping law, so they offer no hope for improvement there. Nor from the incumbents.

Without a possibility of real competition, there's no possibility of influencing ISP behavior by switching to a different ISP.

pretty sure congress is supposed to make laws (0)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579834)

this headline is kind of hard to understand. its like saying 'doctors shouldnt perscribe drugs', when the real problem is not that doctors perscribe drugs. that's their job, its part of what being a doctor is. the real problems are that drug companies bribe some doctors, that perscriptions cost too much, that doctors write sloppy sometimes, that patients share meds with others, etc etc etc.

i mean, who the hell do you want to make laws? someone has to do it, and it better be elected representatives, not some cabal of know it all technocrats.

maybe our elected representatives have become incredibly corrupt ... im not ready to throw away that whole 'democracy' thing just yet though.

not new (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579880)

Politicians Ignore Constituency...news at 11.

yeah...right (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579938)

I bet they all use the internet, and they do a lot trolling forums and message boards anonymously trolling pro statist and pro big government points of views

You're making this too easy Slashdot (1)

nickdc (1444247) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579992)

I didn't need to RTFA or RTFS. Just RTFT and you can agree, it's a no brainer...

This will not help! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580542)

While "the board" (Congressmen) might govern the OTA, a few appointed people will actually be in charge. And these people are going to be ex-RIAA/MPAA litigators.

But isn't this true for everything politics? (1)

derfla8 (195731) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580554)

Isn't this true for most decisions and legislations passed by politicians nowadays? What do politicians know about the environment? Did they study environmental science? What do they know about health? Were they trained in health care? What do they know about education? Were they study and practice as educators? I think you get the hint. Sure they could employ and rely upon experts in the field, but in reality what do they do? Sell their votes to the highest bidder....oh I mean lobbyist.

Funny how people freak out about China and communism, but if you think about it...democracy in it's current form doesn't really work. Does your elected official know your name? Know what you need? Hmm..then how do they "represent" you?

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