Monday, September 08, 2008

Times op-ed wants to restrict consumer freedom

An opinion piece in today's New York Times attacks consumers for their "adolescent" behaviour in treating technology they have legally purchased as their own property, to do with as they wish, whether their actions break existing laws or not.

In fact the editorialist, Kent A. Sepkowitz, goes further than just decrying consumer freedom. He seeks to actively limit freedom. He is actually suggesting that technology be sold with locks on it -- controlling devices that will attempt to keep consumers from breaking the law with their freely bought property.

Why does Sepkowitz believe consumers cannot be trusted with their own technology? Because in his country 13,000 people a year die as a result of consumers exercising their god-given freedom to do whatever they like with their purchases. Sepkowitz is calling for technological controls on automobiles to make it impossible for them to speed.

1 comment:

Infringer said...

John, very good. I am surprised you don't also bring in the gun control lobby argument that guns should be digitally locked so that only the owner is able to use it through digital finger print technology.

With regard to placing speed governors onto private automobiles, I shudder to think of the great challenges this would impose upon the ability to pass on a single lane highway.

With regard to the comparison of speed governors to digital locks which posting on this site implies, the comparison is totally lost with this one line from the nytimes article "Most cars can travel over 100 miles an hour — an illegal speed in every state. Our continued, deliberate production of potentially law-breaking devices has no real precedent."

Digital locks on the other hand have the potential, and have been proven in the past, to limit much activity which is perfectly legal. I strongly suspect that if digital locks were actually capable of only limiting illegal activities, then there would be far less opposition than there currently is.

There would still be a reasonable amount of opposition though. Even though speed governors would only limit illegal speeds, I still wouldn't want one on my car.