Washington's Worst Coders

The American Open Technology Consortium has release a list of "Washington's Worst Coders" — the lawmakers who sponsored six fantastically bad anti-tech laws:

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), H.R.2281

1998's Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) flooded American technology with punishing legal action, jailing scientists and destroying companies. The DMCA's "anti-circumvention" provisions have trumped the First Amendment and have given copyright holders a whip hand over every use of the material they sell to their customers.

Communications Decency Act (CDA), S.314/ H.R.1004

1995's Communications Decency Act turned the Internet into a First-Amendment-Free zone. Speech that would be absolutely protected in the "real world" was criminalized if transmitted over the Internet. After a protracted court battle, a Philadelphia Federal Court zapped this buggy code, declaring the CDA un-Constitutional.

Child Online Protection Act (COPA, "CDA II"), S. 1482, H.R. 3783

After the defeat of CDA, anti-freedom groups and their lawmakers launched a second salvo, COPA. COPA was a narrower attack than CDA, limiting itself to websites hosted by commercial entities, but no less un-Constitutional. The courts stopped COPA dead in its tracks, but today, the Supreme Court is deliberating over whether to unleash COPA on America.

Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA, "The Hollings Bill"), S.2048

This virulent Trojan Horse, written by Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings and friends appears to be a law that promotes technology, but it carries a deadly payload. Under this proposed law, technologists will have to come to film and movie studios on bent knee and beg for permission to ship new hardware and software. The film and music companies who worked to ban every innovative technology from the player piano to Marconi's radio to the VCR and the Internet itself would be in charge of all future innovation in America.

P2P Piracy Prevention Bill ("Berman P2P bill"), H.R.5211

Representative Howard Berman's (D-Cal.) P2P Bill opens a hole in the security of the American judicial system. Under this proposal, copyright holders are free to take illegal countermeasures against any member of the public whom they believe to be engaged in copyright infringement. A law that lets a group of people break the law sounds like an oxymoron, but it's worse than that: by affording a "right of revenge" to movie and music companies, Berman's code legalizes vigilanteism, stripping law-enforcement agencies of the ability to police attacks on Internet users.

CIPA, H.R. 4577

CIPA is a denial-of-service attack on schools, libraries and children. Under CIPA, schools and libraries that receive certain Federal funds are required by law to censor the Web, using filters provided by snake-oil salesmen that raise the cost of providing Internet access to kids while spuriously blocking informative sites that carry information that appears in our schools' mandatory curriculum.