If one were to believe the blogs, the recently released 84-page report from The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property is full of dumb ideas, proposed by people who have no idea about intellectual property. But the report is actually quite well done, specifically identifying real problems, including the inaccurate estimates of losses from the theft of copyrighted works, and proposing specific solutions, some of which might actually work.
Some things never happen the way that us pundits expect. Back on Independence Day in 1999 I wrote this about government taxing the purchase of goods over the Internet: "I fully believe in the ingenuity of the government when it comes to imposing taxes. We will be paying these taxes soon." Well, "soon" has not happened yet, but maybe it is getting closer.
It seems to be passe to be solid these days. The latest example of this is the just-announced OpenDaylight project, in which a bunch of the biggest names in computing and networking have gotten together to push an open source development effort to support software-defined (i.e., virtual) networking under the umbrella of the Linux Foundation.
I use Google Docs as part of my day job. On one recent morning I accessed a file and updated it but when I went back a short time later I got a "502" error page -- something had gone amok in Google land. Everything seemed to work when I tried a few hours later, but the incident was a forceful reminder of one of the important features of cloud services -- when they go down so do you.
One of the big problems standing in the way of getting anything that remotely resembles a concern among Internet companies for the privacy rights of their customers is that there has been no business reason for any such concern. That may be changing, but don't bet big on the possibility.
Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) retired in January after quite a colorful two-dozen years in the U.S. Senate. One of the major issues he pushed for during his last few years in office was protection of the U.S. critical infrastructure. Along with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lieberman put forth a series of bills aimed at requiring some level of protection for such infrastructure, the last of these being voted down in November.
It has now been just about a year since the Obama administration put forth its online privacy blueprint. In spite of a title on the announcement that insisted "We Can't Wait," not much has happened since the blueprint was published. Meanwhile, things are heating up on the online privacy front in Europe, and the contrast between the United States and European viewpoints is and is not stark.
I had already submitted my last column when I heard about Aaron Swartz's death. Some might say that it's too late to comment on this story since the crowd has moved on, but it's never too late to write about someone you knew.
Going into last month the future of the Internet, to borrow a phrase from the great film noir movie "A Touch of Evil," looked like it may have been all used up. The feeling of the traditional telephone folk and controlling governments was that the Internet had done just about enough of this changing the future stuff -- thanks very much -- now it was time for a bit of control. But the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai did not turn out quite the way that those who would control the Internet wanted. Nor, did the WCIT turn out quite the way that those of us who wanted a more hands-off future would have liked.
A good (or was it bad) chunk of 2012 in Internet-land was spent dreading and getting ready for the ITU World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai that will conclude about the time this column is published. (See "The Internet has escaped the ax, at least in the US, at least for now"; "When does free mean none?"; "The non-Internet that never was but might be"; "US Congress passes another resolution opposing UN Internet takeover.") But the year was not all focused on the spectre of a United Nations takeover of the Internet.
The Internet as we know it might never have happened if the Comite Consultatif International Telephonique et Telegraphique (CCITT) had not turned down the offer of TCP/IP from Vint Cerf and other Internet pioneers about 35 years ago.
Regular as clockwork -- just after an election which generated far too many stories of people waiting far too long to vote (and far too many local election officials saying that everything went fine and that there were no problems) -- come the calls for voting via the Internet. The press wonders if we are a third-world country, politicians posture and most security experts say "don't go there."
The Copyright Clause in the U.S. Constitution reads: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." The copyright part of this clause -- the part referring to authors -- has become a stick to bludgeon technology, not just to protect authors' rights.
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