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Will Disney Soon Be Able to Break into Computers… Legally?

break into computerAnd we thought Hollywood was over the edge when they were suing 14-year-old girls for downloading Madonna songs. Ha! That was nothing!

Something called The IP Commission Report (subtitled A Report Of The Commission On The Theft Of American Intellectual Property) just crossed my desk. This new and very impressively produced report, authored by seven sets of hyper-impressive credentials, informs Congress that they should change US laws to go far, far beyond anything that has been authorized previously.

(To me, that means they are doing it already and want legal cover, but I’m just guessing, based on previous experience.)

The report is not exactly exciting reading, but I’ll give you the highlights:

On page 6, (by the report’s internal numbering), we get a bit of an overture – a foretaste of what’s to come. It says this:

Companies that experience cyber theft ought to be able to retrieve their electronic files or prevent the exploitation of their stolen information.

“Retrieve their electronic files” is a bit ominous, since getting them back would require breaking into remote computers. How and by whom is not discussed in this overview section; that will come later.

Page 13 gives us a very interesting insight into the general Washington mind. Here’s what it says:

Each year hundreds [of] thousands of students from all over the world come to the United States to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduate degrees. Upon graduation, many return to their country of origin… [A] cap on visas forces thousands of highly skilled workers, a core input for economic growth and production, to leave the country, taking their knowledge, skills, and innovative spirit with them.

So, what these kids learned in school is somehow the property of the US government and US companies? Since this is a report is on “the theft of intellectual property,” no other interpretation really works.

Think of the arrogance involved in that concept. This is what the blind obedience of a populace breeds. (And Americans have been among the most blindly obedient people on Earth in recent years.) That this type of concept can appear in such a report does not speak well of the future.

The creepiness continues on page 14, where a section title expresses the need for building, world-wide, a “Culture of Compliance.” A bit Orwelian, no?

Finally, on page 81, we get to the crucial section. Read this carefully:

While not currently permitted under U.S. law, there are increasing calls for creating a more permissive environment for active network defense that allows companies not only to stabilize a situation but to take further steps, including actively retrieving stolen information, altering it within the intruder’s networks, or even destroying the information within an unauthorized network. Additional measures go further, including photographing the hacker using his own system’s camera, implanting malware in the hacker’s network, or even physically disabling or destroying the hacker’s own computer or network.

To clarify, the report is suggesting that companies, and that means Disney, Fox, Viacom, Sony – any major record label or studio in Hollywood or any specialists they hire – will be authorized by the US government to:

  • Scan the entire Internet and all it connects to, searching for files registered with their magic circle-C (copyright) symbol.
  • Hack into computers, anywhere.
  • Once inside a computer with “their” file on it, to delete it, and/or,
  • to alter it (like turning it into a virus or worm), and/or,
  • to infect the entire network with malware (viruses, worms, system-destroyers), and/or,
  • turning on the computer’s camera to spy on the user, and/or,
  • destroy the computer, and/or
  • destroy the entire network.

Allowing Companies to Break Into Computers, Legally…

This is your government at peak obedience, and this is what they are ready to give their partners in Hollywood, who fabricate the world’s imaginations…

I leave you to contemplate how many ways this could go badly. (I’m sure the Chinese and Russians will love having all their systems hacked!)

And by the way, this has a good chance of getting through Congress in the name of “Saving American Jobs.”

If prominent Internet-activist Aaron Swartz were still with us, he might be able to focus all his attention on this and stop it, but he isn’t here any longer. I’m not sure who else might have the right combination of contacts, time and ability.

RIP, Aaron.

Paul Rosenberg

[“Will Disney Soon Be Able to Break into Computers… Legally” was originally published at StoryLeak.com]

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