Luddite Legislators Make Utah a Laughingstock
There are some distinctions you don't want. Utah managed to grab the dubious honors of being named in 3 of the top 10 worst Internet laws ever, all of them making the top 5. So what exactly did we do to make this dishonor roll?
Coming in at number 5 is the Utah Digital Signatures Act, a misguided attempt at indemnifying issuers of the digital certificates used to certify a site's identity. The hope was to create standards that a business could conform to in exchange for being protected from identity hijacking. In reality, no companies took advantage of the convoluted law that later faced repeal.
Next on the list is the "do not e-mail" list for kids. Not only did it fly in the face of FTC policy, but it had proved impossible to enforce. After all, spammers (especially of the porn variety) are already usually breaking a number of "do not spam" laws as well as hijacking unwitting systems into cloaking the source of their activities. What on earth makes anyone think they'll comply with an opt-out list?
In that same vein, we made number 2 on the list with an anti-adware law so broad and impossible to enforce that it ended up being litigated and amended into even more ineffectual. The enforcement rights were given to copyright holders only (sound familiar?) and required adware vendors to prompt you for your ZIP code so they could exclude you from certain competitive advertising. It wasn't about preventing us from being hammered with unending ads and loss of privacy (the bill never addresses spyware): it was all about establishing mercantilism in the state.
So what do we do about these absolute disgraces in a state with a thriving IT sector in the midst of the information age? I think we need to demand more technically-competent legislators on the hill. That means voting younger and against experience despite our first instincts. If we don't, we'll end up with more people just like Orrin Hatch that make us the laughingstock of the new knowledge-based economy.