...And Things are Likely to Get Worse

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2003-10-06 Print this article Print

The Federal Government is certain to attempt ill-informed, ineffective legislative solutions to the problems of unsolicited e-mail and messages...

The Federal Government is certain to attempt ill-informed, ineffective legislative solutions to the problems of unsolicited e-mail and messages, responding to pressure to reconcile the burgeoning chaos of separate and inconsistent state laws. So warned a Stanford Law School professor, Lawrence Lessig, author of "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace," in keynote remarks at last months Openwave Messaging Anti-Abuse Conference in Santa Barbara, Calif.

"We should be embarrassed," Lessig continued, "by how extraordinarily poorly our legal system works for everyone but the 3 percent who can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to resolve their disputes."

Lessig urged his audience of messaging system operators and technology providers to inform the debate with the perspective of those who understand the interaction between the regulation attempted by law and the regulation imposed by technology.

"Until politicians are embarrassed by the fact that they dont understand how the architecture of the Internet works, until theyre embarrassed by the fact that their policy-making has no inclusion of the role that technical standards have in inducing innovation … well have policy-making by the oblivious," he warned. "Oblivious policy-making is having one consequence—its breaking the Internet. The Internet is collapsing, not because government is regulating badly but because government doesnt understand how its regulating it.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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