Techdirt reports on a recent Florida law intended to ban slot machines and internet cafes – but the law is worded so badly that it is broad enough to ban all computers, tablets and smartphones. It essentially bans any machine or device by which someone can play a game of chance.
The law resulted in about 1000 internet cafes being shut down. One of them has launched a lawsuit and is of course using this bad drafting as part of its case.
As Mike Masnick of Techdirt puts it: “Can we just have lawmakers recognize, once and for all, that they’re really bad at legislating technology?”
This happens far too often. Another case in point is the yet to be declared in force Canadian anti-spam act. It is so complex, with exceptions added to exceptions, that the CRTC has started to publish how it interprets it in practice. It’s a law with good intentions that will be a compliance nightmare for many, and may actually discourage electronic communications and do the opposite of the expressed purpose of the act, which is:
3. The purpose of this Act is to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating commercial conduct that discourages the use of electronic means to carry out commercial activities, because that conduct
(a) impairs the availability, reliability, efficiency and optimal use of electronic means to carry out commercial activities;
(b) imposes additional costs on businesses and consumers;
(c) compromises privacy and the security of confidential information; and
(d) undermines the confidence of Canadians in the use of electronic means of communication to carry out their commercial activities in Canada and abroad.
Here’s a thought – at least for the Canadian Federal government. Disband the Senate as we now know it. Replace it with a standby panel of qualified experts in various fields – who will review proposed legislation with an eye to determining the practical effects of the words, and revise language as needed. The experts from the standby panel would be called in as needed on a consulting basis depending on the nature of the proposed legislation. Be sure to include a few teenagers on anything remotely tech related.
That might get better legislation – and would probably be a lot cheaper than running the senate.