2002, not 1984

Hot on the heels of the notorious and ill-conceived Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) comes another effort by members of Congress—backed by their mega-corporation sugar daddies—to brandish us all as criminals. Say hello to the misleadingly titled Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA).

Rather than trying to explain just how bad of an idea this is, I’ll instead refer you to this article by Dan Gillmor, in which he poses these four questions:

Do you care if a few giant companies control virtually all entertainment and information?

Do you care if they decide what kinds of technological innovations will reach the marketplace?

Would you be concerned if they used their power to compile detailed dossiers on everything you read, listen to, view and buy?

Would you find it acceptable if they could decide whether what you write and say could be seen and heard by others?

See this EFF action alert and this online petition site for more about the proposed legislation and its effects.

The entertainment industry, through its mouthpieces, has shown that it does not or cannot grasp the rapid advances in today’s technology. In fact, it has shown that it is downright scared by these advances—or rather, scared by the effect of these advances on its financial ledgers. And unfortunately, it has managed time and time again to buy the ear of Congress to provide it with therapy and relief. Legislation and litigation instead of innovation.

Writing your Congressman couldn’t hurt, though Congress’s track record suggests it probably won’t help. Unfortunately, the only way to really get the attention of the industry is to hit ’em where it hurts—right in the pocketbook (again, refer to the Gillmore article for suggestions). Much easier said than done, I’ll admit, but it’s something to ponder.

It’s looking more and more like George Orwell had it right all along. He just had the year wrong.