Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Rights and wrongs of the digital age

Michael Geist has an article on the BBC website looking at the recent French regulations on DRM as a jumping off point to consider the issue of government tinkering with technology.

"With government intervention looming as a possibility and the private market unlikely to resolve compatibility concerns, what principles should regulators adopt to provide all stakeholders with greater certainty about the appropriate circumstances for lawmakers to tinker with technology?


The obvious starting point is that intervention is possible, indeed desirable, where companies with dominant marketplace positions exploit the lack of compatibility for anti-competitive purposes...

Regulators may also be inclined to act in order to protect the public in cases when technology poses a safety concern or is used to eliminate or hamper consumer rights.

Technological requirements to meet safety standards or enforce environmental protection are common today, with government setting requirements for many consumer products and mandating testing before certain technologies may be marketed to the public.

Similar issues are entering the digital domain...

... need for government to avoid prohibitions that limit the ability of the public to tinker with technology.

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