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EFF volunteers to lose important suit over Sony 'rootkit'

Still securing precedents for the other side

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Finally, EFF co-founder and board member John Gilmore has independently taken up one of the more important civil-liberties causes of recent years, attempting to sue for the right to travel by air within the USA without having to show identification. This is a very important case, and it's up for appeal later this week, so let's dwell on it a bit.

Indeed, there is no good reason why anyone should not be permitted to travel incognito, and many good reasons why one should. This is a case that can, and should, be won. Surely, only an EFF principal could blow this one, yet blow it he did. The combination of Gilmore's preposterous and inflammatory libertarian rhetoric and his unreasonable demand that he not be subject to any security measures, like a bag search and a pat down, mean that his appeal, scheduled for 8 December, will almost certainly go down the tubes with his original attempt.

The fact is, knowing who someone might be is not nearly as useful for security purposes as knowing whether or not they are armed or otherwise equipped to cause mischief. Indeed, the ID requirement has nothing at all to do with security; the airlines instituted it to prevent people from selling or giving away tickets they can't use, and so ensuring additional income.

So why does Gilmore object to the quite reasonable security measure of searching an incognito traveler's bags and person? Because he doesn't like to be searched, and thinks only about himself. His selfish, unrealistic demands will go a long way toward ensuring that this case is decided in favor of the busybodies. It's a very winnable case, but it will be a miracle if Gilmore wins it. He's doing everything possible to kill any hope that you or I might fly the paranoid skies and keep our identities to ourselves.

And so it goes: excellent taste in causes, catastrophic results. I personally would love to see Sony spanked over XCP. Sadly, with EFF on the case, it's only you and I who stand to take a spanking. And a rough one at that. ®

Bonhomie Snoutintroff is a plain-spoken strong leader in cyberspace. He did poorly in school but his family is rich and well connected, so he's served as CEO of numerous, well-known Internet ventures that for various reasons unrelated to his forward-looking guidance no longer exist. He developed a cocaine and alcohol problem, although he refuses to dwell on the past: his mission is to bring honor and dignity to the IT profession. His keen insight as a global techno-visionary is matched only by his Christian humility.

Related stories

Sony's DRM woes worsen (30 November 2005)
Music biz to 'hijack' Europe's data retention laws (25 November 2005)
Sony fiasco: More questions than answers (23 November 2005)
Texas puts Sony BMG in its sights (22 November 2005)
Gaffer tape defeats Sony DRM rootkit (21 November 2005)
Sony DRM uninstaller 'worse than rootkit' (17 November 2005)
Sony rootkit DRM: how many infected titles? (15 November 2005)
Sony suspends rootkit DRM (12 November 2005)
Sony hit by lawsuits over root kit (10 November 2005)
Sony digital boss - rootkit ignorance is bliss (9 November 2005)

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