Effects of S.314 (Communications Decency Act)

jpp at markv.com jpp at markv.com
Tue Feb 7 21:26:30 PST 1995

For my congresional 'representatives'.

S.314 is not a moral bill.  Making the owner of a computer (or
computer network) responsible for what its users store (or transmit)
is like making the owners of a parking lot responsible for what is
stored in the cars parked there.  It just isn't moraly reasonable.

S.314 is un-American.  America has always been a place where speach is
freeest.  We have consistently held the expression of ideas to be one
of the very most important rights.  To hold the owner of a buliten
board responsible for the illegal messages posted to it, is to force
the buliten board owner to become a government censor in all but name
(and wages).  It effectively ends the bulliten board's use as a venue
of free speach.

S.314 is harmfull to America.  The kind of 'chilling effect' this bill
wil place on the computer (networking) industry would put american
companies at a serious disadvantage.  Could I really operate an
airline reservtion system for a large airline if I could be held
liable for illegal information transmitted using my equipment?  No.
Could I operate the masive software and hardware networks that the
phone system requires?  No.  But, I bet the company I own in Mexico,
or in Canada could.  They aren't burdened with such (artificially
created) liabilities.  Or perhaps I could get a special waiver from my
friends in Washington. Hmmm.  How much will these sorts of 'work
arounds' cost american bussiness?

S.314 is not enforceable.  There is no certain way to tell if a file
of data is an illegal one.  Stegnography and cryptography, along with
the fact that what a bit means depends on which programs are used to
interpret it, mean that even this message could be porno, terrorist
threats, or arangements for drug trafficing.  Imagin searching all the
cars in your parking lot for drugs.  Very expensive, and not very
reliable.  Tons of drugs travel past just such inspection sites each
year.  Now imagine how tough it would be if the drugs could be turned
into perfectly normal steal in the body panels of the vehicles!  That
is what stegnography and cryptography do to data.  Turn perfectly
'awfull' data into data perfectly indistinguishable from noise, and
then hide the noise as indistinguishable-from-inocent 'errors' in
other data.  Concider the spelling in this message -- convert each
word into a bit -- 1 if it is speled right, 0 if not.  Or how about
spacing, or, punctuation -- Hmmm.  Now supose we add otras idiomas,
aux eble muchos languages en cxiu mesagxon.  Will computer (network)
owners be responsible for the spelling, punctuation, language, word
choice, and grammer of all the electronic mail sent, received, and

S.314 is bad for *your* career.  If you vote to support it, I will
vote against you in upcoming elections.  I will work to impeach you.
I will never employ you, I will not read your memoirs, I will not do
business with you in any way what so ever.

I urge you to think twice, and then vote no on S.314.


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