August 19, 2004
Secrets, Rights, and DMCA
My view of the outside world.
I fear for the future. I try not to be overly paranoid, but as far as I can tell, our rights are being no less than systematically taken away from us. In 1998, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed. Through its broad and sweeping language, the DMCA virtually does away with fair use as pertaining to the digital world. 2001 brought us the USA Patriot Act. This delightful piece of legislation, printed and rushed through congress in the middle of the night, that allows anyone deemed a terrorist to be stripped entirely of his/her rights and held for an indefinite amount of time without being charged. In June of this year, the Supreme Court ruled in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of the state of Nevada (pdf). This ruling removes what many interpreted as our right to remain silent. As of now, if the police ask you questions or for ID, and you refuse to answer, you can be prosecuted. If this doesn’t seem bad, read about the case that was involved. It doesn’t stop there though. Presently, 5 journalists are being held in contempt of court for refusing to identify their sources, who had demanded anonymity. Also, when a former employee of Sun Microsystems inquired as to why he was required to display ID to travel on an airline, he was told that the law was secret and that he couldn’t read it. When does it end?
We’re in real trouble with the government taking our rights away on one front, and becoming more furtive on another. No good will come of it.
I’m about to enter my last week of vacation. While I look forward to getting back to Ann Arbor and away from my home town and my job, I grow increasingly apprehensive about class and my apartment. I’m sure my worries are mostly unfounded, but it fills my thoughts. I’ve still got to figure out how I’m going to coordinate the move.
At lunch today, I found myself staring at a man near the back of the restaurant I was in. After a minute or so of telling myself I was crazy, I was certain I was looking at the professor of the dual enrollment western civ class I took senior year of high school, one Mr. Laabs. It was one of the better classes I’d had to date, as after the first few weeks, all but 6 students had dropped out, not to mention that the professor wasn’t a high school teacher, and didn’t teach like one. Its been the most personal education experience I’ve had, and I got to find out what a difference a small class size can make. Without essentially studying at all, I managed to retain more knowledge from that class than most likely any other history class I’ve had, and I had a good time doing it. It didn’t hurt that Mr. Laabs had a thing for math (he was originally a math major) and chemistry (one day he brought in a jug of liquid nitrogen that he let us play with the entire class period), not to mention that he was a nice guy (he bought us all pizza on the last day before the exam). Apparantly he’s stopped teaching for awhile to be home with his kids. Too bad. It was nice, if strange, seeing him though.