Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Ban Behavior, Not Code?

from the yes,-but... dept

Declan McCullough has a roundup of plenty of dreadful legislation that has been proposed to ban certain applications, pointing out how many would ban perfectly legitimate applications as well. His recommendation is that instead of banning applications, politicians should focus on banning behaviors. As has been said many times here, banning technology makes no sense. Banning bad behavior is perfectly reasonable. However, it's not necessarily so easy with software. If you asked the politicians and looked at some of the bills McCullough mentions, many would say that they are trying to ban behavior and not the technology. For example, with spyware, they're trying to ban the behavior or sneakily sending private info without the user knowing it. That's what the various laws propose - and it's clearly targeting a behavior. The end result, though, is that it bans any technology that automatically performs that "behavior." So, separating out software from behavior isn't always so easy.

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  • identicon
    Not A. Zealot, 10 May 2004 @ 9:55pm

    Easier to ban by name

    Generally the people writing "ban" legislation are not all that familiar with the subject matter, and (sometimes willfilly) are ignorant of how infeffective banning a name is.

    It's a bad analogy, but the "Assault Weapons Ban" had similar flaws. The bill banned hundreds of specific models by name, as well as general combinations of military-like features (bayonet lug, flash hider, pistol grip, etc) that had more to do with a scary appearance than actual functionality.

    Predictably, gun manufacturers responded by producing new models with slight cosmetic changes and new names; The AR15 lost the flash hider and became the XM15, functionally the same but different enough to comply with the law.

    Similarly, Gator has a reputation as spyware, so they have changed their name to Claria...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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