Did you hear the one about the tech-savvy senator?

Trick question: They don't exist! Yet they still try to enact stupid laws governing technology they don't understand

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Like moths to a flame

That's like a military contractor sticking glow lights on Marine combat helmets as personal target indicators and marketing them as a "convenience" feature. What are the chances that entire high schools in the Ukraine aren't going to gang up and exploit this technology to shut down U.S. communications and highway sexting? The only beneficiaries to such a policy that I can conceive would be the hordes of third-world, cave- and basement-dwelling digital pirates and vandals the NSA keeps preaching about, along with device manufacturers that will do anything to sell as many new SKUs as possible.


If I were an aging, cynical, techno-snark, which I'm absolutely not, I might ask to see the campaign donors list for two wingnut San Francisco politicians. But I'm definitely not such a person and the concept I'm not so subtly hinting at is too evil to contemplate in the real world -- just a wild conspiracy theory like UFOs interred in Nevada or Linux on the desktop.

Let's stick to known facts. The concept of forcing a mechanism into any device to instantly destroy it, like a kill switch into a phone, a dormant plastic explosive into a Prius, or Super Bowl pressure on Peyton Manning, is the kind of inane nonsense we've come to expect from our government on matters technical. It will also prove as effective as the video of terrorists showing their most recent U.S. military hostage: a dog. I mean, I feel bad for the captured canine, but odds are the U.S. government won't change global policy to save it, considering dogs are typically sent into areas first to test if they're safe for humans.

Besides, we already enjoy this feature on a semi-unintentional basis, don't we? When Microsoft wants us to buy a new Windows Phone, it issues an OS update, which immediately turns X percent of Lumia or HTCs into bricks. When Apple needs more hardware revenue, it gives its display screens a snazzier name and claims they're scratchproof, so you'll think nothing of putting them in a pocket with your keys. Meanwhile, Android manufacturers send out sweets-inspired updates, so you'll (1) buy a new device on your way home and (2) be subconsciously prompted to stuff your face with candy or ice cream.

Innovation is being crushed beneath our patent system, privacy is a smoking crater because of our intelligence community, and our belief in the basic decency of man is being violated by multiple techno-company CEOs on a regular basis. Do we need actual government intervention to make our lives more miserable and our wallets a little bit thinner? It doesn't take a smart switch to figure that one out.

This article, "Did you hear the one about the tech-savvy senator?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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