Why SOPA may be America’s worst mistake

America seems to have come out with a new (although hardly an innovative) way to censor links it feels violates copyrights–although the fact that they do not have to justify themselves makes one wonder if they will not also ban legitimate links that work against them, as many have begun to see. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is more than meets the eye; following in China’s footsteps–but going one step too far–the US government hopes to pass a bill that, will give them absolute rights to decide what one sees and what one does not, on the Internet.

The Web has often been celebrated analogous to freedom in more ways than one: speech, art and in general expression of almost any form. But, leveraging on a few acts of piracy, and apparently using it as a veil, the government hopes to gain the rights to ban stuff on the internet, and–as giants such as Google, Yahoo!, eBay and Netscape see it–effectively the Internet itself. Either way, SOPA is slowly being seen as a technique to undermine the framework of free expression.

Dissecting SOPA

While more and more people around the world are slowly finding out about SOPA–and a number of non-US sites–are writing (read: fighting) against it, there happen to be a much lesser number who know the full implications of this act.

In a nutshell, SOPA is a bill targeted at sites hosted outside the US making them susceptible to be banned, should the US government feel so (which is the catch here, as I see it.) Delving a little deeper into it we find SOPA to list the following clauses ((Paraphrased, read this extract for more details on Section 102)):

  1. Order internet service providers to alter their DNS servers to prevent resolving the domain names of websites in foreign countries that host illegal copies of videos, songs, and photos.
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On why I think it is too early for biometric identification

‘Passwords have become obsolete’ was what IBM Speech CTO, David Nahamoo, said–at least effectively–in IBM’s Research News blog. His main point was that our current use of identification and security, our trusty passwords, were a) really insufficient security b) hard to remember. (Incidentally, I suspect Mr Nahamoo has over 50 log-ins to remember.)

Everything we do online, or via a computer, requires authenticating who we are – user IDs and passwords are our safeguard. But the security isn’t foolproof. Our IDs and passwords can be stolen and our mobile devices can be lost or stolen.”

–David Nahamoo[[/perfectpullquote]]

IBM 5 in 5 Security

Given that all my computers, especially my laptops up to this point, have been IBMs, I am particularly fond of–and familiar with–their multiple attempts at user security/protection. Perhaps the farthest back I can recall is the face recognition on my first IBM laptop. It was fascinating at first but I was forced to remove it when I ended up making faces in public just to turn on my PC.

It is really worse than it sounds. Anyway, then came their fingerprinting technology and that too was a nuisance to me until I changed my laptop all the way to the one I now own–free from any of that biometric hassle. At this point I may have come off as a biometric identification hater of some sort, but really, I am a fan of the entire concept so long as it does not leave those glazed pages of comic books. Continue reading