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So where is the Obama Administration alternative to SOPA?

The Wall Street Journal reported last Saturday about President Obama’s discomfort with the Stop Online Piracy Act. Seems even if it passes Congress, Mr. Obama will veto it.

Is the Obama Administration saying it’s more concerned about protecting content delivered by rogue web sites? If what is currently on the books was effective against infringement on American copyrights, would this legislation have been brought forward? What alternative legislation has the Obama Administration offered?

Spokeo or spooky-O

Posted January 6th, 2011 in Cyberspace, Facebook, free speech, Internet, privacy and tagged , by Alton Drew

I don’t know about other sections of the country, but local media here in Atlanta has been abuzz about Spokeo.com, an Internet website that promises to give you access to the 411 on any and everybody for a monthly fee of $2.95. A cousin of mine gave me the heads up last night and local CBS affiliate Channel 9 ran a story this morning.

The company, according to its website, aggregates public records and provides access to information on a person’s wealth, income, e-mail address, property address, telephone number, and social networking information. They also provide subscribers with access to photos that someone may have placed on their social network page.

This is a private investigator and divorce lawyer’s dream come true. For a nominal fee, these guys can really get into your business.

The concept overall is not new. A number of websites have been providing subscribed access to aggregated information for years. What is scary here is that Spokeo appears to be able to access social networks to get information in addition to what is in a court record.

If that is truly the case, I wonder what that would do to Facebook’s valuation? If people are afraid to provide Facebook with all that cheap content in fear that Spooky-O is going to get a hold of it, then Facebook’s value should be taking a dip south. Then again, we’ve seen stranger things and it will be interesting to see how this plays out if people start opting out.

While Bobby Rush defends against computer fingerprinting, Color of Change no where to be found

Posted December 1st, 2010 in computer fingerprinting, Cyberspace, Internet, privacy and tagged , , , by Alton Drew

The Wall Street Journal today has an interesting article on computer fingerprinting, where a number of firms collect identifying information transmitted by your computer. These firms put the collected data into a database and sell this information to advertisers and other companies that wish to combat fraud.

The practice, according to the Journal, is legal. U.S. Representative Bobby Rush, Democrat of Illinois, introduced legislation this past summer that would allow consumers to opt out of this type of data gathering.

Personally, I don’t subscribe to the overly dramatic concerns of the privacy police. If you don’t want it out there then get offline, but I can admire representatives like Mr. Rush who can seek out a reasonable alternative that can keep consumers and business happy. He puts his money where his mouth is, unlike some of his critics such as Free Press and Color of Change.

I painstakingly visited the websites of these two slef-vaunted protectors of the little media man to see if they published any positions against the fingerprinting practice. Guess what. Not a bleep. A big no response from the very critics accusing Mr. Rush of not being able to provide leadership on broadband and Internet issues.

A lack of response from you guys is almost criminal. Somebody get the ink and give me your fingers Color of Change, starting with your left thumb.

Protecting cyberspace as a national asset

I admit that when I read Bianca Bosker’s The Huffington Post’s article and reviewed portions of S.3480, Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010, I had visions of Keifer Sutherland running through the streets trying to stop a terrorist while Dennis Haysbert sits in the Oval Office with his finger over a big red button.

Okay, I’m also suffering from “24” withdrawal and it sounds like Senator Joe Lieberman, Independent from Connecticut, is suffering from it, too. At the risk of channeling Representative John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, it sounds like we are using a nuclear bomb to kill an ant.

This bill is just another example of the overreach the Commerce Clause can be used to commit. While aimed at protecting our federal information infrastructure, let’s face it, anything or anyone could be a source of disruption to the infrastructure via the Internet. All this bill does is create the potential of killing the whole body in pursuit of destroying one cancer cell.

Maine’s Republican Senator Susan Collins is correct that “kill the switch” may be the wrong moniker for the bill. Overkill of Internet commerce may be more like it.