Broadband: Are You Exposed?

A Dangerous New Law

The Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) is currently moving through the governments of many states. Coming out of a highly critical debate, this controversial bill makes an open Internet a dangerous place. Two aspects of UCITA are of particular interest to broadband users.

This law-to-be "binds purchasers to terms disclosed only after the purchaser pays for the software, and allows the software vendor to change the terms of the contract unilaterally by email."[11] Additionally, UCITA allows software developers to protect against license disputes by embedding security holes and "back doors" in their software. These proprietary safeguards can later be used to change or disable the operation of your software remotely, "without court approval and without incurring liability for the foreseeable harm caused."[12] While it's not presently in a large software maker's best interest to do so, this law leaves open the possibility that a software maker could collect a portion of your income from, or claim intellectual property rights for, any work created using the software maker's product. If you don't agree to their license, they can simply reach in to your computer, which is always connected to the Internet, and just disable your software (or worse), leaving you no recourse.

Who's to stop malicious forces from also taking advantage of this new vulnerability? Will thousands of home users be held hostage to the whims of some computer-savvy teenager having a bad day? UCITA, combined with normally problematic software development, places an undue burden on home and small-business broadband users--those who can least afford the added security threats.

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