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Microsoft security fixes infected with FunLove virus
6:50am NZST
A virus infection of security fix files on Microsoft's partner and premier support Web sites has forced the software giant to suspend certain downloads for more than a fortnight

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Crushing Net Freedom 26 April 2001 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
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The unfettered freedom and absence of regulation that made the Internet such an exciting, dynamic and dangerous place to hang out is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

For many years the Internet was an analog of the American West during the early days of 1800s. Lawmakers and politicians simply weren't interested in "the Net" -- partly because they didn't understand it and partly because they thought it was just another inconsequential "geek thing" that would never amount to much.

However, since the massive dot-com boom, those who make and enforce the laws have come to the sudden realisation that the Net has become an extremely potent force with the power to affect the lives of almost everyone on the planet.

Record Companies Threaten To Sue Researchers
"Hey, if you can crack our proposed copy-protection systems we'll give you $10,000" said the SDMI -- a group made up by members of the recording industry.

So a group of researchers did crack their copy protection systems -- but instead of getting $10,000 for their efforts, the researchers are now being threatened with prosecution under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

What's going on here and are the SDMI playing dirty?

Find out more at 7amNews/ShockHorrorProbe...

Now our politicians want to embrace and control the Net -- after all, politics is all about "power" and there is nothing more powerful than information and the ability to control its movement is there?

Of course not all of this is bad news for Net users.

A new initiative by New Zealand and 12 other countries working in unison to crack down in online fraud is to be highly commended. Far too many people have already fallen victim to unscrupulous fraudsters who find the Internet and its millions of gullible users to be easy prey.

Even the proposed anti-hacking laws are, in principle, a good thing -- making just a little safer for companies to put up websites and for users to connect their PCs to the net.

However, let's not forget that there is a darker side to government involvement in things Internet.

There are some gray issues -- such as whether the proposal that material off a racist or hateful nature be deemed illegal is sensible or a breach of the right to free speech. While we must all acknowledge that there are portions of our society that need protection from "bad people" -- I for one find it incredibly patronising when a government tries to tell me that I'm too stupid, naive or easily lead to resist the messages that some racist or hate site might contain.

I'm certainly not in favour of such sites -- but then again, I don't believe we have the right to make something illegal just because we don't agree with it -- however distasteful we might find its message.

Why not treat it like erotica -- place an age limit on it and prosecute only those who don't implement systems that effectively prevent access by those who are too young?

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And then of course we have the ultimate power-trip on which politicians all over the world wish to embark -- that of giving themselves the power to snoop in our email boxes, monitor the flow of data in and out of our computers and even break in to our PCs and snoop around.

Given that the NZ government's anti-hacking bill is designed to make such actions illegal by anyone else -- we are again being subjected to the all too common scenario where there's one set of rules for "the common folk" and another set for those in power. Sorry -- but this is just unacceptable as far as I'm concerned.

But what do YOU think? Share your thoughts with Aardvark's readers.

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