Ed Felten's radical technology agenda

Great article about Ed Felten's political awakening and the work that the Comp Sci professor has done to turn lawmakers on to the dangers of allowing entertainment companies to call the shots in the technology world.

In September, in written testimony before a House of Representatives hearing, Mr. Felten criticized legislation drafted by Rep. Howard L. Berman, a California Dem-ocrat, that aims to thwart sharing of music through peer-to-peer networks. If it became law, Mr. Felten said, the measure could also interfere with legitimate Web activity because the Web itself is a peer-to-peer file-sharing system. Researchers, for example, who post excerpts from copyrighted material to their Web sites without permission from the copyright holder could have their Internet service disrupted, even though such postings may be fair use.

Furthermore, he said, a provision in the bill that would allow copyright holders to launch denial-of-service attacks against peer-to-peer networks could prompt "an arms race" between the creators of the networks and copyright owners, with the network creators ultimately prevailing. Denial-of-service attacks attempt to overwhelm computers by sending them such huge amounts of information that they become incapable of responding to legitimate queries.

"The bill, as written, flatly authorizes 'self-help' attacks on the World Wide Web, and not just users of file-trading networks like KaZaA and Gnutella," Mr. Felten said.



(Thanks, Seth!)