LinuxPlanet: comment: The Digital Millennium Rape Act
Jul 23, 2001, 13:00 (68 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dennis E. Powell)
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The arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov, a member of a relatively small
community (hackers), is just the first step in a slippery slope
designed to erode freedom while fronting a dangerous agenda. Dennis
E. Powell argues that controlling the means by which a crime can be
committed is never the right answer to ensuring lawful behavior in
a citizenry, and says the parallel example of gun control bears him
"Federal law enforcement officials today began rounding
up men for alleged violation of the new Digital Millennium Rape
The law, which went into effect June 30, bans "possession of any
item or device that makes it possible to commit the crime of rape."
It was approved last month by a narrow margin in both the House of
Representatives and the Senate following intense negotiations
during which a provision was added which excempts government
employees, including senators and representatives, from the new
law. The legislation was necessary to bring the U.S. into
compliance with a treaty negotiated in Japan two years ago by the
Clinton administration, but thusfar unsigned by any country.
International pressure on the U.S. to sign the accord was intense,
however, coming especially from the European Union and many
non-European third-world nations. The treaty specifies actions that
the United States must take, making no mention of other
"This landmark legislation serves notice on all would-be
rapists: If you've got the equipment, we'll lock you up," said the
bill's sponsor, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California), immediately
after its passage.
Critics of the bill argued at the time that mere ability to
commit a crime should not itself be a crime, but were overwhelmed
by an intense public relations campaign mounted by proponents.
Among the existing laws cited in defense of the bill were federal
gun regulations and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which
make possession of firearms and software, respectively,
"If you can do the crime, you will do the time," said Boxer. "
This is a crime prevention measure -- by the time someone has
actually committed an offense, it's too late."
The above is not real -- if you thought it was, get help at
once. But it's a demonstration of the direction in which things are
headed, and unless this trend is seen as a whole, there's not a
chance of stopping it, if indeed a chance of stopping it still
exists at all."