If you swap illegal files via the Internet then Senator Hatch thinks there should be a way to destroy your PC for violating copyright law.
During a discussion on methods to frustrate computer users who illegally exchange music and movie files over the Internet, Hatch asked technology executives about ways to damage computers involved in such file trading. Legal experts have said any such attack would violate federal anti-hacking laws.
“No one is interested in destroying anyone’s computer,” replied Randy Saaf of MediaDefender Inc., a secretive Los Angeles company that builds technology to disrupt music downloads. One technique deliberately downloads pirated material very slowly so other users can’t.
“I’m interested,” Hatch interrupted. He said damaging someone’s computer “may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights.”
The senator acknowledged Congress would have to enact an exemption for copyright owners from liability for damaging computers. He endorsed technology that would twice warn a computer user about illegal online behavior, “then destroy their computer.”
“If we can find some way to do this without destroying their machines, we’d be interested in hearing about that,” Hatch said. “If that’s the only way, then I’m all for destroying their machines. If you have a few hundred thousand of those, I think people would realize” the seriousness of their actions, he said.
“There’s no excuse for anyone violating copyright laws,” Hatch said.
While I agree with the fact that things are getting out of control in terms of the rampant amount of illegitimate files being pushed around the Net, I don’t think actively destroying the PCs of people suspected of engaging in such activity is the proper way to solve the problem. Using that logic we may as well pass legislation making it a requirement that violating the speed limit causes your car to fall apart. After a couple thousand people slide face first across the highway the message will get around, don’t you think? After all, there’s never any good excuse for speeding yet millions do it every day.
I had a much longer entry about this issue written up that a random accidental button press on my keyboard somehow managed to wipe out in one fell swoop and I don’t have time right now to recreate it. Instead, I’ll chalk it up to being so well-reasoned and sensible that Sen. Hatch had it remotely destroyed before I could release it to the world and take comfort in that delusion.