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May 18, 2001

Proposed international law treaty puts rights at risk
Misc.5/18/2001; 2:58:20 PM 'But the treaty's drafters began their work before cyberspace took its present form. Back then, business in other nations included a physical presence. You went there, set up shop and agreed to abide by that place's rules.... Cyberspace has blurred all borders....'Some nations' laws deny rights we take for granted in the United States and some other democracies. If critics are correct, the Hague Convention would turn local laws into international fiats, making the most restrictive laws anywhere the effective law of the Internet.'I don't have the faintest idea what the solution is to the problem of international legal conflicts is. However, I do know that the most obvious solution, which is this, will not work. This will only please the most restrictive regimes imaginable... and actually not even them.


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May 12, 2001

MS incites UCITA breach
UCITA5/12/2001; 7:11:27 PM 'Whereas Maryland's version of UCITA gives jurisdiction to Maryland, Microsoft insists that jurisdiction for the use of Passport resides in the law and courts of Washington state. As a result of this conflict, it appears that Maryland residents are not allowed to use the Microsoft service.''Although this conflict did seem to be an amusing instance of both Microsoft and the legislative sponsors of UCITA in Maryland getting hoisted on their own petards, I at first didn't see any significant consequences to all this legal snafu. Passport is a free service, and Maryland's version of UCITA includes an escape hatch for free products, designed in part at the behest of open-source software advocates. But then I remembered that the Passport license is subsidiary to the license for MSN; so I checked the license terms of MSN....'My intuition says we're missing some critical part of this story, but I'm not really certain what it is. What were Microsoft's lawyers thinking?


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May 12, 2001

They Know If You've Been Bad or Good
Surveillance and Privacy from Government5/12/2001; 11:34:03 AM 'Independence Hall will forever be depicted in history books as the birthplace of the United States. Along with the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument, it is among the most recognizable symbols of freedom in the world. Ironically, this building where the Declaration of Independence was signed, emancipating Americans from an intrusive government, is now the site of a high-powered video surveillance camera.'From the no unenforcable law series on iRights. (I need to re-factor this site's catagories, "No Unenforcable Law" would become a new catagory, headed up by the Human Justice story.)


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May 11, 2001

Transaction Costs and the Social Costs of Online Privacy
Privacy from Companies
5/11/2001; 10:46:06 PM 'Economically, privacy can be understood as a problem of social cost, where the actions of one agent (e.g., a mailing list broker) impart a negative externality on another agent (e.g., an end consumer). Problems in social cost can be understood by modeling the liabilities, transaction costs and property rights assigned to various economic agents within the system, and can be resolved by reallocating property rights and liability to different agents as needed to achieve economic equilibrium. This article examines how advances in high speed networking and data storage have radically reduced the costs to businesses of collecting, storing, manipulating and exchanging large amounts of personally identifying information on consumers, and the policy implications that these cost reductions have on property rights over personal information. A complementary economic and legal system that recognizes individual property rights over personal information is suggested as a way in which to greatly accelerate the adoption of electronic commerce and to extract inefficiencies from the already existing marketplace for personal information.'

More interesting and accessible then that abstract may indicate. I found this by following a link in the three criticisms article earlier. I'm still chewing on it, but I was starting to develop an argument much like the thesis of this piece.


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May 11, 2001

Judges Seek Answers on Computer Code as Free Speech
Free Speech5/11/2001; 10:42:23 PM 'In what may signal a heightened significance for a case testing the constitutionality of a 1998 digital copyright law, a panel of appeals court judges has asked both sides of a case to answer a list of 11 questions on whether computer code can qualify as free speech.'Here's the court request with the questions.I'll post the EFF's answers (which I'm sure they will post) when I can get them. It will be really interested to read the two side's answers. I think the subtext for all 11 question is "Can code really be speech?" For instance, consider question 2: "Does DeCSS have both speech and non-speech elements?" The real question is what definition of speech the two sides will use to answer this question is. Stay "tuned".


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