Posted on September 1, 2008
Filed Under Web 2.0 Kool Aid |
I understand that TechCrunch and other technology blogs like it are out of touch with mainstream reality. But a post last week really pushed the boundaries of absurdity.
On the heels of the Democratic National Convention, TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld decided the time was right to call for a “comprehensive national technology policy for the Internet Age.”
Why? Because “many laws and policies governing the Internet and digital property are inadequate attempts to transplant rules from a different era.”
This, of course, coming from a journalist, not a legal scholar. I think what Schonfeld meant to write is “many laws and policies governing things such as property rights are inadequate because they don’t allow consumers to download and share free music.”
Unfortunately, Schonfeld doesn’t see either party heralding the cause of digital socialists so he decided to serve as the 21st century’s James Madison along with Austin Hill, a serial entrepreneur and the 21st century’s George Mason.
Their Digital Bill of Rights calls for the following:
- The Right to Use and Reuse Content
- The Right To Control Digital Property On Your Own Device
- The Right To The Free Flow Of Information
- The Right To (Some) Privacy
- The Right to Control Your Digital Identity
My two word response to these: pure bullshit.
First, it’s worth pointing out that existing laws are quite adequate. Many of the issues that Schonfeld incorporates into his Digital Bill of Rights are reasonably covered by existing laws. This, of course, does not mean that those laws will not need to be interpreted by the courts in different ways given new technologies, but replacing them altogether is unnecessary.
Second, and most amusingly, apparently Schonfeld and Hill believe that lawmakers in the United States have no issues of greater importance than to ensure that citizens can transfer songs between different devices.
In case Schonfeld and Hill haven’t noticed, the United States is in the shitter. Some of its largest banks are clearly on the brink of insolvency (will Lehman be the first investment bank to go?). They and other corporations are being purchased on the cheap by countries like the UAE, Russia, China and Singapore. The worst of the credit crunch has not yet begun and in case anybody is still counting, Medicare and Social Security are more than $40 trillion in the hole. With inflation at a 17 year high, the rising cost of basic necessities like food has even American college students turning to food banks.
Apparently Schonfeld was too busy thinking about his iPod and missed the fact that Russia, which less than two decades ago was practically a failed state but is now flush with petrodollars, just called checkmate on the United States, leaving little doubt about the United States’ position in the world today.
More on this some other time but the implication is clear: citizens of the United States and their government leaders have more important things to worry about than “digital rights.”
In the small world of Silicon Valley, however, copywrongs and network neutrality apparently trump issues like the economy, healthcare and geopolitics.
While I certainly understand that TechCrunch is a technology-focused blog and thus is not going to cover topics of real importance, one can’t help but observe some pretentiousness in Schonfeld’s comments that “nobody in either party has pulled together a focused set of principles that can truly guide both lawmakers and policymakers” and “it is important to have a consistent policy governing everything from Internet Protocol regulations to intellectual property on the Web.”
He even stated that “Obama’s choice of tech-challenged Joe Biden as his running mate is not exactly a confidence builder.”
Let’s get real Erick: when Americans go to the polls in November, the technology platform of each of the candidates isn’t going to be a factor for the average individual trying to put food on his family.
And in case you’ve forgotten, Erick, your government is far better at than it is at giving them.
Print This Post