September 19, 2018

Archives for September 2003

Senate Testimony

I’ll be testifying tomorrow morning at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on “Consumer Privacy and Government Technology Mandates in the Digital Media Marketplace.”

The hearing is really about two topics: the DMCA subpoena process that allows copyright owners to learn the identities of Internet users (“Consumer Privacy”), and the impact of regulations that would require technology makers to build anti-copying technology into their devices (“Government Technology Mandates”). I’ll be on the panel discussing the second topic. Other witnesses on the panel will be Lawrence Blanford of Philips, Jack Valenti of the MPAA, and Chris Murray of Consumers Union.

I’ll post my written testimony here later. I’ll also post my impressions of the hearing afterward.

UPDATE (4:50 PM): It appears that a live Internet audiocast of the hearing will be available on capitolhearings.org, starting at 9:30 AM (Eastern). The hearing starts at 10:00 with a panel discussing the subpoena issue; I’m on the second panel.

A Virus Made Me Do It

According to press reports, an Alabama accountant has been acquitted on charges of tax evasion, after he argued that a computer virus had caused him to underreport his income three years in a row. He could not say which virus it was. Nor could he explain why it had affected only his own return, but not any of his clients’ returns which he had prepared on the same computer.

If the reports are accurate, the man’s claims sound bogus. I suppose the jury felt they had a reasonable doubt about whether his story was true.

It’s hard to see how juries can reach just outcomes in cases like this. Virus infestations are common, and it’s often hard to tell after the fact what happened. We’ll probably see more computer-virus defenses in cases like this, and some of them will lead to unjust verdicts.

This is yet another price we have to pay for the persistent insecurity of our computer systems.

[Thanks to Brian Kernighan for pointing out this story.]

More RIAA Suits to Come

Louis Trager at the Washington Internet Daily (no link; subscription only) reported yesterday that the RIAA is planning on filing hundreds of additional lawsuits against peer-to-peer users within the next month.

RIAA VP Matt Oppenheim also expressed outrage at the criticism of the group’s amnesty program. Trager quotes Oppenheim as saying, “We can only give away what we can give away….” Oppenheim also claims that the public supports the RIAA’s lawsuits, citing poll numbers and talk radio callins.