Computing/IT politics & policy
When living in a society increasingly dominated by digital communication and mass media, there are social, cultural and political challenges involved. I’m a great supporter of these technologies; I believe that used responsibly they are great as ‘enabling’ technologies, levelling playing fields in a number of areas including business, personal freedom and accessibility. However, radical changes inevitably cause upset in certain quarters. Some organisations, who fail to adapt to new technology, feel they are exempt from the traditional “adapt or die” mantra and believe they have an inaliable right to exist and profit at all costs and therefore seek (through legislative and other processes) to safeguard old-fashioned and/or unsustainable business models by lobbying for artificial and unreasonable legal protections (often unreasonably constraining perfectly good uses of technology), without regard to the impact of these actions in wider society.
Unfortunately, due to the generically complex and technical nature of the problems, most politicians (and media) fail to understand the deep implications of the measures demanded by these businesses, and as such tend to accept biased and shallow summaries from lobbyists or large companies. This is a ultimately problem for everyone, not just those trained and employed in technical areas.
My main areas of concern, where legalistic processes are already creating artificial and morally indefensible problems are in copyright protection/licensing and patents (especially with respect to the patentability of software) – in other words, the issues with which the “Intellectual Property” lobby is primarily concerned (N.B. I am not opposed to intellectual protection).Furthermore, the case for the development and use (especially by governments and publicly-funded organisations) of free software (where ‘free’ refers to freedom from restrictions, not necessarily price) is undeniable, but is threatened by unreasonable legal constraints.
- Software patents
- European Copyright Directive
- Digital rights/restrictions management (DRM)
- Open source in government
See also my posts about IT politics and policy.
- Open Rights Group – possibly the leading UK-based group campaigning on technology-related rights issues. I actively support ORG and highly recommend their clear and fair thinking which is reflected in submissions on relevant topics to Parliament.
- The Foundation for Information Policy Research – an independent organisation studying policy issues related to information technology and society
- Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure – promoting freedom to innovate in Europe