December 5, 2006

MPAA Needs to Steal Your Identity to Fight Privacy - I Mean 'Piracy'

Wired is reporting that the Motion Picture Association of America's lobbyists have successfully killed an anti-pretexting bill in California. Pretexting is the practice of pretending to be someone else in order to gain access to that person's private records. An aide to the California Secretary of State was quoted as saying "the MPAA told some members [of the legislature] the bill would interfere with piracy investigations."

What on earth gives a private organization who wants to extort money from you with frivolous lawsuits the right to lie to your utility providers in order to steal your personal records?

Kind of like in the aftermath of 9/11 when the RIAA tried (and failed, thank God) to get an exemption included in a computer security section of an anti-terrorism bill so they could break into your computer and see if you have copyrighted music. What is their problem? They succeeded, of course, in passing the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) which makes it a federal criminal offense to break copy protection technology, even for the purpose of claiming your 'fair use' rights under earlier copyright law - so, for instance, it is a criminal offense to make a backup copy of a DVD, or a copy-protected CD. As if all of this wasn't bad enough, the two senators owned by the entertainment industry, Patrick Leahy and Orrin Hatch, alternated chairing the judiciary committee from 2001-2005, and the rumor is that Leahy is set to take over again in the Democratic senate in 2007. (I can't believe those guys keep getting reelected!) That is a lot of power.

This, let me point out, is what differentiates 'robber baron' capitalism from real capitalism of the type that libertarians support. In robber baron capitalism, corporations and industry groups with huge amounts of money use it to influence government to violate individual rights for the benefits of the corporations. What garbage.

Posted by Kenny at December 5, 2006 2:32 PM
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Comments

Leahy and Hatch are pretty much exactly what their respective constituents want in their senators. I doubt anything short of their death or a major scandal in a bad year for the party in question would end their tenure before they retire. You do have such things. Conrad Burns in Montana this year got beaten when he ran for reelection, but he almost got reelected despite his very strong Abramoff connections, and he's a Republican (it was a Democratic year). Hatch and Leahy are at least as well liked in their states as Burns, so it would probably take something worse than the Abramoff scandal in a year as bad for their party as this year was for Republicans. In other words, they will almost certainly retire or die in office rather than getting beaten in a reelection effort.

Posted by: Jeremy Pierce at December 5, 2006 10:57 PM

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