Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.
I’d like to expand on this for a minute, and describe the latest government disaster coming out of Utah. If you will for a moment, follow me to this link: Governor Huntsman to sign anti-porn resolution.
The gist of the article is this: The ICPA is proposing to turn the Internet into a television, by separating content by port. Thus, you will have adult content on one port (channel), and family content on another port (channel). The idea is to move pornography off of the default web browsing port, namely port 80. The idea is being chaired by Ralph Yarrow, who is chairman of the SCO Group. If you’ve been following Slashdot, this story hit front page yesterday.
First off, this really boils my blood. Getting stereotypical, this is why Republicans shouldn’t be in office: they are clueless to the digital rights and freedoms that we as consumers are entitled too (not that the Democrats are really doing any better, though, are they? (If Pete Ashdown was elected Senator, I’d feel safer about the decisions being made in our state)). Stepping away for a minute, and taking a look at the bigger picture, however, separating content by port is just silly. Rather, let’s look at a number of better options to filter pornography out, to those who are interested:
1. RFC 3514- Set a security flag in the IPv4 header. With this standard, it would be easy to filter out unwanted online material.
2. XXX TLD- Have a top level domain of .xxx, and force adult content to use the TLD. Again, using this approach, it is easy to filter out questionable material using simple software.
3. Non-neutral tiered Internet- Rather than one dumb pipe serving all traffic for all types, we can tier the Internet, putting certain content and services on different pipes through your ISP. You want the porn? You’ll need to pay for it. Don’t want it? No worries- you won’t get it.
There are a number of other solutions to combating the problem with pornography. Probably the biggest, is just plain education. Parents need to teach their children and put the computer in high traffic areas. There are also a number of great tools already in place to filter out unwanted adult material.
The point of all this is: rather than messing with the underlying framework of the system, enhance existing technology to better fit the solution.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand the thought of government officials, namely Republicans John Huntsman and Orrin Hatch (those who manage what they do not understand), making decisions for me regarding technology. We need officials who understand the technology, and are consulted regularly about digital rights and management. We need, as Archibald Putt puts it, a “Technocrat” in office. One who understands what they manage.