Year of Our Discontent

eWEEK Labs Director Jim Rapoza takes a pessimistic-except for Linux-look at the year gone by.

2003 was full of developments that had a big impact on IT. Unfortunately, most of what happened was bad. If you didnt lose your job entirely, your job certainly got a lot harder. For IT staff at most companies, dealing with the near-tidal wave of spam was one of the biggest hassles. Market researchers have been studying the phenomenon diligently, but you dont need to see their figures to know that the volume of spam is huge. Even though 2003 saw many new and improved products to help companies filter out spam, none of these have proved to be very effective.

I certainly expect improvements in the technologies that deal with spam, but I dont expect things to get much better in 2004. Part of the problem is that the recently passed CAN-SPAM legislation will mainly have the effect of protecting quite a lot of commercial spam while having no effect on most other forms of spam.

But why should we be surprised at that? Most of the legislative action that governments have taken on IT issues has done little good. Either bills like the CAN-SPAM Act are ineffective or others like the federal and state DMCA measures have directly threatened technologies as well as workers.

I fear that we can expect more of the same. Potentially good laws, such as those that mandate base security levels, are unlikely to see the light of day, while laws that protect special interests at the cost of innovation and progress will inevitably get passed.

Next page: Beware spyware