Technology

Internet Taxes

I am opposed to any taxes on the Internet.  That includes sales tax on Internet retail sales (other tax positions).

Network Freedom

I believe that common carriers should not be allowed to censor the data they carry based on content.  This applies to the Internet and Cell phone network providers.  The government does have the right to censor things like child pornography.  The common carriers do not.

I believe that Internet Service Providers must not be allowed to provide favorable service to certain content providers for a fee. This doesn't mean Internet Service Providers can't charge end users for varying levels of service (including varying levels of QOS on multi-cast packets).

Internet Service Providers do have the right to regulate throughput on their network; however, they also must do it using techniques defined by the IETF (like queuing packets at the edge or dropping packets). 

Internet Service Providers do not have the right to advertise a high data rate and then kick users of the system because they utilize the high data rate.

Botnets and Viruses

It is possible to write "white hat" viruses that actually go around and fix security problems on computers connected to the Internet.  Unfortunately, good intentions don't count and it is also quite illegal to release such a virus.  That hasn't stopped some good Samaritan from doing it once and there are rumors that the FBI has also done so.  We need a legal framework for doing such things.  Perhaps an Internet court that can authorize releasing a repair virus into the wild.

Patents

The patent system has gotten completely out of control with clever lawyers figuring out how to patent generic descriptions of things that don't embody any real invention.  This is especially true of software patents, because software patents were rarely granted before 1990 and, despite what some of the younger technology people would have you believe, most real software developments occurred before that and were never patented.  People are constantly applying for, and getting, patents on technology that was deployed in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  I just finished reading a patent with something like 100 claims in it and practically all of them were embodied in IBM 3270 terminals (which were produced in the early 1970s!):  This is abusing the patent system and I don't really know how to fix the problem (of no prior art database) other than outlawing software patents.  At this point, creating a prior art database for software would about impossible, because many of the practitioners from the early days are dead!

Copyright

Musicians, software writers and all other authors deserve to get paid for their work just as much as anybody else does.  The author may choose to give their work away, but it is the author's right to negotiate for pay.  We don't approve of stealing the food off a person's table for any other profession in this country, authors deserve the same consideration.

It is true that monopolistic business practices between record labels and terrestrial radio have limited access to widespread distribution for most music.  I will support setting up a distributed royalty (or lack thereof) system to allow for free competition in the copyrighted work arena.  See the technical details here...

EULAs

EULAs (End User License Agreements) need to be standardized.  I must click on thousands of those things in the course of a year.  If I treated them like the binding legal documents the companies that implement them think they are, I would spend more money paying a lawyer to interpret them than I make in a year.  This is clearly an unacceptable burden.  read more...

Copy Protection

Many software vendors use copy protection.  It is their right to do this; however, I have observed vendors abuse copy protection to obtain rights and benefits they do not deserve.  I have also observed that software vendors that use copy protection often fail to take into account the impact on the users when the copy protection fails and stops the program from working.  Some abuses have I seen:

I know of a vendor who refused to replace a broken dongle because the product in question was "no longer supported".
I have seen copy protection systems mysteriously fail after working for months and cause a time critical business function failure because of a copy protection problem.

The following rules should apply to copy protection

  • Any vendor who uses copy protection must support the copy protection forever or provide an unprotected version of the program when they drop support.
  • The copy protection scheme must allow for a reliable and practical backup policy.
  • The copy protection scheme must allow the application to be moved to a new computer.
  • If the vendor fails to follow these rules, the DMCA should no longer apply.

Abandonware

Users often have a vast investment in data that is created and maintained by a given software application.  Software vendors who cease to support an application should be required to open source the application.