Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Powerful Senator Would Destroy Computers of Illegal Downloaders

Honest to God. That's almost verbatim the Boston Globe headline on this AP story. Can you guess who?

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday he favors developing new technology to remotely destroy the computers of people who illegally download music from the Internet.

The surprise remarks by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, during a hearing on copyright abuses represent a dramatic escalation in the frustrating battle by industry executives and lawmakers in Washington against illegal music downloads.

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.''

That Orrin is such a card. His interest goes beyond law and order concerns. Something I didn't know - Hatch has legitimate concerns as an "artist" himself. AP explains.