Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Last Political Post

My wife made me promise to hold off on upsetting political rants for the next few weeks.  I'm going to try to write only nice things.  Before I adopt this Lenten attitude, though, I have to say one last thing. Via a comment on Mousemusings, I went to Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, and found this post and this post on Center for Media and Democracy.  These all pertain to those nasty little trojans known as VNRs, or Video News Releases.  These are either commercials, or propaganda, disguised to look like news reports.  They are released into the media feeds in the hope that some channels will air them, with or without knowing that they are essentially information viruses.  Recall that some of the Bush scandals, now essentially under-rug-swept, involved this kind of thing.

The damn thing is, it would be easy to require digital signatures on all video feeds that enter the media stream. We would need laws to hold people accountable for fraudulent use of those signatures. Companies or entities that release video feeds would have to keep a log of all uses of the digital signature. News organizations would be required to reveal who signed the video "news" release, and consumers should be able to check the logs to see who really produced the VNR. It would be no more difficult than signing an email. We have the technology.  In fact, it would be possible for to have an Internet-enabled TV to do the checking automatically.  Anything produced with federal money would have to carry a notice to that effect.  Misuse would be grounds for permanent dismissal from public office.  Any manipulation to conceal the source of funding would be a felony.  

I should think that the media would welcome any technology that would improve their credibility, even if they did have to go out and find their own stories.  I would even think the FCC could get on board with this, since it would make it easier to prosecute anyone responsible for a display of wardrobe malfunctions.  Just think of how that would improve national security.

categories: propaganda, scandals
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