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Putt's Law

Phil Windley described in a recent post about a book written by author Archibald Putt (not his real name). He mentions a key point in I.T. and government, namely:

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.

{ 11 } Comments

  1. Christer Edwards using Firefox 2.0.0.2 on Mac OS | March 16, 2007 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Don't you love it when our state makes headlines for being retarded?

    Also, I don't think I agree with your #3 suggestion of tiering of the internet. If you start with one new pipe you'll start an avalanche of the same and our ISPs will start nickel-and-diming us to death for everything.

    "ohh, you want slashdot too? you want torrents? those are on separate pipes. that's a connection fee, extra pipe fee, customer is bent over to the corporation fee, etc"

    keep the net neutral. use option 1, 2 or just plain education.

  2. Stuart Jansen using Firefox 1.5.0.10 on Fedora | March 16, 2007 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Uhm... You do realize RFC 3514 is a joke, right?

  3. Glen using Firefox 2.0.0.2 on Windows XP | March 16, 2007 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I agree with most of what you said, however it has nothing to do with being a democrat or republican as there have been plenty of stupid bills pushed by both sides.

    Huntsman and Hatch both love to use things like "For the children" and "morals" to garner votes and push things through.

  4. Jeremie Corbier using Links on Debian GNU/Linux | March 16, 2007 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    How about using avian carriers for pr0n? RFC1149 describes how this could be done ;-)

  5. Aaron using Debian IceWeasel 2.0.0.2 on Debian GNU/Linux 64 bits | March 16, 2007 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Christer- Nope. I disagree. Keeping all traffic in one dumb pipe is a bad idea. The goal of tiered Internet is to allow services, just as VOIP, health, government, and other services on their own pipe each, thus freeing up the general web-browsing pipe, and giving exclusive, restricted access to corporations, such as hospitals, the bandwidth they need. Keeping everything in One Dumb Pipe, regulated by the government mind you, is a bad BAD idea.

  6. Aaron using Debian IceWeasel 2.0.0.2 on Debian GNU/Linux 64 bits | March 16, 2007 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Stuart- No, I am not aware of the humor behind RFC 3514.

  7. Aaron using Debian IceWeasel 2.0.0.2 on Debian GNU/Linux 64 bits | March 16, 2007 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Glen- Yes, you are correct. Either party is equally responsible for the chaos that is the United States Government. I just like to pick at Republicans, and their "feel good" agendas.

  8. Paul Betts using Firefox 2.0.0.2 on Ubuntu | March 16, 2007 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Yes, RFC 3514 is a joke. It's equivalent to walking up to a crook and asking, "Are you honest?" Of course the crook is going to say "Yes!" just like people who are hackers are going to mark the "Is safe" field of the IP header. The XXX TLD has the same problem - it requires everyone to be honest.

    How are you going to make companies whose webservers are in a different country abide by US laws? It's impossible and silly to try to demand everyone in the world submit to draconian US laws.

    However, you nail the point when it comes to education - that's the real solution. Not to mention, is pornography _really_ the problem we need to be working on? Whatever your thoughts on the subject, you can certainly agree that there are _much_ more important things that America can be fixing with both the Internet and the country than movies of people having sex. Porn is like smoking, it's just another shill issue that congress like to bring up to distract people from the huge real problems that we have.

  9. Lonnie Olson using Firefox 2.0.0.2 on Mac OS | March 16, 2007 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    I agree with your sentiment about the CP80 bill, however your suggestions are all crap.

    Any government control attempts on a global network will be insufficient, problematic, and freedom limiting.

    Paul hit it right on the nose. #1 and #2 are dead easy to bypass. And you are missing the reason the Internet became extremely popular when you mention #3. The Internet works because it is democratic with very minimal rules.

    Any laws to attempt to implement #1 would fail the same way spam laws have failed. The bad people disregard the laws, or move out of the country. (See Pirate Bay, spam zombies, etc)

    Moving all porn to .XXX is impossible. One reason, see previous paragraph. Another reason is that the US govt cannot control the domain registration of other countries.

    In summary, any non-global government control of this global network will fail, and only hinder the honest by removing existing freedoms.

  10. Ronald Devins using Firefox 2.0.0.2 on Ubuntu | March 17, 2007 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Lonnie, while I agree with the heart of what you've said, you have to be careful with your global quantifiers. Some form of government control is okay (e.g. net neutrality, spambot laws, etc), but in this case government control is problematic because:

    1) The internet is not ruled by any one country, so any attempt to control the internet without international treaty will result in offshoring what's being controlled, and causing the government to either actively try to find and block all domains that have porn (even a single picture could bring down all domains and subdomains) or have massive government (or ISP) surveillance and random checks of government. Both have a chilling effect on free speech of non-porn content.

    2) There is no universal definition of what is porn other than "I'll know it when I see it". At one time, showing a woman's ankles was considered porn and let's not even talk about Jeannie's belly button (on the show "I dream of Jeannie"). In some parts of the world, full frontal nudity is considered okay (entire families see each other naked without sexual innuendo) while in others western beachwear would be taboo. Some would consider pictures of Lina Medina (look it up on google) child porn while others would consider it a medical picture for research only. Some consider computer generated pictures porn, while others say it's ridiculous to do so. Without unified standards, you've gone down the slippery slope of having the police arrest people "just because they say you're guilty".

    3) What exactly is the reason to regulate it? I'm firmly against the over-sexualization of society. I hate it when advertisers think that they can get me to buy their products just because they sex it up. I hate the way the media portrays sex and the way many people believe that sex is god, even in the selection of a marriage partner or a marriage itself. Anyone whose been married knows there are long stretches (particularly if you have children, or there's illness, or Christopher Reeve-like tragedies) when sex just isn't possible and if you have nothing else to fall back on, your marriage is toast. But here's some intuitive stats of the top of my head that most people would agree with. Over 90% of people have seen porn and have not turned into rapists, addicts, or children predators. The problem isn't the porn. Porn is the strawman. The problem is social, and I know most people don't like to hear this, but there's no easy solution because you have to get people to *want* to change for something better. That can't happen through control. It has to happen through inspiration. I don't know how to do it, but I do know that people like Gandhi, Mandela, Mother Teresa, and Kennedy have been able to raise our eyes beyond the ordinary into a better world, so perhaps instead we should focus on creating these sorts of visionaries instead of this whack-a-mole control game.

  11. Sebastian using Firefox 2.0.0.2 on Ubuntu | March 17, 2007 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    RFC 3514 is, obviously, one of the April Fool's joke RFCs.

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