Cory Doctorow outlines 'The Coming War on General Purpose Computation'

Credit: flickr/LaurelRusswurm

Cory Doctorow spoke recently on how groups that legislate to stop media file copying will try to regulate general computers to the point of oppression.

At the 28th Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin on December 27, Doctorow addressed the goals of expanding regulations like SOPA. He also compared attempts to regulate general purpose computers that can run any software to laws that would ban wheels because bank robbers always use a car with four wheels to escape. Regulating computers and networks is as silly to Doctorow as regulating wheels looking for a way to make a wheel that won't help people break the law.

But computers are everywhere, as Doctorow explains by saying a plane is a computer that flies and a car is just a computer we sit in. The FCC, worried about misuse of Software Defined Radios (SDR), asked for comment on whether it should mandate all SDRs be run in locked computers managed by a central authorities. And this is only the beginning, since lobbies and business groups, more effective than movie studios, start asking for regulations that stop general purpose computers from running programs that "scare or anger" those business interests. In other words, all roads lead to more and more restrictions.

Regulations are coming

Now why would a corporation go and do something like that!?!? You make it sound like they are some sort of soulless, evil, entity that only carried about profits. Oh wait....

Noctilucent Studios on

Control of Computers/information systems is going to become one of the only real ways to exercise control over people in the future, because it will encompass everything else.

throwaway64 on

"Coming"? Apple's been walling their garden for years now.

Ladyfingers on

Isn't it already the case that many scanners, printers and image editing software have built-in restrictions to prevent the copying of currency?

colmmacc on

Hackers forever

Having, for example, replaced the OS on my MP3 player with an open-source alternative (Rockbox), and having run Linux on my home machines for the past 16 years (invalidating the warranty on these devices), I'd give up support for freedom.

Ambiguity on

Surely a congress can and will establish stupid laws that would try to scare public against using a general purpose computation devices just to please their corporate sponsors. But those laws would be unenforceable from the day one and would just fail the same way the Prohibition failed.

ibukanov on

They can't lock us down

I think we are suffering from a lack of imagination, companies don't trust users to use their tech in a way that best fits their lives.

David LaMorte on

I disagree. I think that companies are worried that people will use the tech in a way that inconveniences them (i.e., the company).

Ambiguity on

It's impossible. General purpose computers are extremely widespread, and they will continue to be available for a lot of time even if no longer manufactured.

slashdot (guest) on

Or will we have a future where all apps run in the cloud and force users to authenticate, eliminating the need to run local code at all?

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