Democracy & Technology Blog Dept. of Life imitating The Onion

You’ve probably heard of online phishing, where Web stalkers purloin sensitive information through trickery and deceit. But you will be glad to know legislatures across the country are banning an even more serious form of online predation.

The Humane Society of the United States last year mailed more than 50,000 people an urgent message, underlined and in bold type: “Such horrific cruelty must stop and stop now!”
The cruelty in question was Internet hunting, which the animal-rights group described as the “sick and depraved” sport of shooting live game with a gun controlled remotely over the Web. Responding to the Humane Society’s call, 33 states have outlawed Internet hunting since 2005, and a bill to ban it nationally has been introduced in Congress.
But nobody actually hunts animals over the Internet. Although the concept — first broached publicly by a Texas entrepreneur in 2004 — is technically feasible, it hasn’t caught on. How so many states have nonetheless come to ban the practice is a testament to public alarm over Internet threats and the gilded life of legislation that nobody opposes.

But we wouldn’t want to discriminate against our aquatic friends, so

California also banned Internet fishing. Nobody is doing that, either.

All this talk of banning something that doesn’t even exist reminded me of the overheated Net Neutrality campaign to prohibit the blocking and degradation of bits.
If legislators ever put these two phenomena together, watch out.
Imagine the specter of big telephone companies degrading access to your 802.16q HoIP 12-guage, your iChat .22, or your terabit FoIP fly rod. This ain’t shooting fish in a barrel — between me and the savannah I need high-def, real-time, low-jitter, no-latency, high-powered, long-range, long-haul optical targeting. Or what if the cable TV companies create a “walled game preserve” where only their broadband customers can remotely roam and poach unsuspecting prey. A competitive Google digital preserve with avatar antelope and bit-substitutes for ballistics and blood just won’t do. Online hunters want the real thing. We want QoS thruput to our meat-space big game. Open access poachers of the world unite!
-Bret Swanson
P.S. HoIP = hunting over IP; FoIP = fishing over IP

Bret Swanson

Bret Swanson is a Senior Fellow at Seattle's Discovery Institute, where he researches technology and economics and contributes to the Disco-Tech blog. He is currently writing a book on the abundance of the world economy, focusing on the Chinese boom and developing a new concept linking economics and information theory. Swanson writes frequently for the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal on topics ranging from broadband communications to monetary policy.