Later this week, Rep. Howard Berman, (a California Democrat whose district includes Hollywood) will introduce a bill that would allow copyright holders to perform nearly unchecked electronic hacking if they have a “reasonable basis” to believe that piracy is taking place. The legislation would immunize groups such as the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America from all state and federal laws if they disable, block or otherwise impair a “publicly accessible peer-to-peer network.”
The bill doesn’t specify what techniques would be allowed, but nothing is prohibited except a meaningless comment that industry hackers should not delete files. The industry could introduce viruses on your computer, it could send worms, it could launch denial-of-service attacks, and it could hijack your domain name. If this causes you any damage – for example, if all your files are “accidentally” erased – you are prohibited from suing anyone unless you get permission from the Attorney General and you can prove actual monetary damages.
It would be foolish to assume that the industry would act with restraint if the bill passed. There is every reason to believe it would launch a vicious cyber-attack, a computer armageddon. And if they happened to disable millions of computers, well, they have absolute immunity – and the industry has demonstrated over and over that it has no conscience and no remorse.
The government has been warning us about cyber-terrorism – the possibility that hackers could disrupt things by introducing viruses or launching denial-of-service attacks. There is no kind way to interpret the Berman legislation. It authorizes corporate terrorism. It is abhorrent to everything this country has ever stood for.
The entertainment industry contributes a lot of money to political campaigns. The bill has widespread support. These are sad times.