Government Is No Friend of Tech

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2007-10-09 Print this article Print

Opinion: Legislation often limits innovation and the free use of technology.

In the world of the Batman comics, one of the more interesting villains that the Caped Crusader has to contend with is Two-Face. You see, Two-Face wasnt always a bad guy. He was originally Batman ally and Gotham District Attorney Harvey Dent, but after a criminal disfigures half his face with a vial of acid, Harvey loses his grip on reality and turns into the evil Two-Face. But the really interesting thing about Two-Face is that he does sometimes do the right thing. Thats because he often decides whether he will do good or evil on the flip of a coin. This can make things especially tough for Batman, who must fight to stop the crimes of Two-Face but also occasionally sees his old friend Harvey whenever the coin makes Two-Face do the right thing. And Im starting to understand Batmans problem myself. Because theres an enemy out there that Im often striving against. One who often seems to be dedicated to destroying the freedoms and innovations that technology has brought to us and bring all exciting and disruptive technologies to a stand-still. However, every once and a while this enemy does something helpful and makes me think that maybe it isnt all that bad after all.
The enemy I am talking about is, of course, government.
Sure, government has done some good things to spur innovation (like a little thing called the Internet) but typically if two politicians sit down to craft a bill that touches on technology, it usually means that innovation and the free use of technology is going to be in great danger. A perfect example of this kind of government intervention (and there are plenty) is a recent law that actually went into effect in Germany. Typically referred to as the Hacker Tool law, this law makes it illegal to own, use, create or distribute a "hacker tool." Whats a hacker tool? Good question. The law doesnt seem to worry too much about that definition. Click here to read the entire column Government Is No Friend of Tech
Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr Rapoza's current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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