18 Apr 2008

Closing the Stupidity Gap

Just in case anyone thought that mind-boggling ignorance and gross stupidity was restricted to members of the U.S. government and civil service, this story out of Russia, reported by Ars Technica will disabuse you of the notion. Apparently they want to impose a mandatory registration and licensing regime on all consumer Wifi gear, under penalty of confiscation:

[T]he government agency responsible for regulating mass media, communications, and cultural protection has stated that users will have to register every WiFi-enabled device with the government […] registration could take as long as ten days for standard devices like PDAs and laptops and […] it intends to confiscate devices that are used without registration.

The Ars story references a Russian source, Fontanka, but it’s (unsurprisingly) in Russian.

Although it’s easy to go for the censorship-conspiracy angle, I’m not sure that there’s as much evidence for that interpretation as there is for plain old public-sector incompetence:

The Fontanka.ru article quotes an industry specialist who points out that the government agency behind the policy is run by a former metallurgic engineer who likely has no clue about many of the technical issues overseen by his organization.

It’s almost heartwarming, how much we have in common.

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