WATPA: Taxing the Internet

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From: Richard Jennings (rmj@mimetek.com)
Date: Thu Jan 06 2000 - 00:05:02 EST

The comment that "enforcement is the problem" goes to the root.

For just a moment, forget Right and Wrong, Fairness, Level Playing Fields, whatever.

Anyone remember Prohibition, or more accurately, have you read about it?
In the 1920's, the sale of hard liquor was prohibited buy U.S. law. Probably no law was ever more broadly and
flagrantly violated....and it was repealed through a constitutional amendment if I remember correctly.

Whatever "secure" technology is invented, hackers will appear to build work-arounds. And the work arounds may be
developed OUTSIDE the U.S. and freely sold over the Internet! No way for Federal, State, or Local governments to
prevent it.

As an early, crude example, many expensive software packages ($000) are sold with hardware "dongles" containing a code
enabling the software. Within a year after the introduction of dongles, at least three companies in Canada were
advertising "products", in U.S. magazines, which would bypass the dongle and allow the user to make and use multiple
copies of the "controlled" software against the wishes of the software developer.

Now those software workarounds can be delivered over the net without using the U.S. Post Office or involving the Federal
Trade Commission.

I have no position on "right or wrong"...yet; but I do think that it is a mistake to levy an UNENFORCEABLE tax or
levy. This only encourages contempt for government and a degradation of society.

Richard Jennings

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