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Federal Assisted Suicide Law

A debate has begun on the application of federal drug laws to assisted suicide — a debate which may result in a new federal law to counter Oregon’s experiment in doctor-assisted death. Last November the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) concluded that assisting a suicide is not a “legitimate medical purpose” for the use of federally regulated drugs, and that using such drugs to assist a suicide could cost a physician the federal DEA registration authorizing him or her to prescribe controlled substances. But on June 5, U.S. attorney general Janet Reno reversed the DEA policy, ruling that the Controlled Substances Act “does not authorize the DEA to prosecute, or to revoke the DEA registration of, a physician who has assisted in a suicide in compliance with Oregon law” [page 4].

The attorney general added that the DEA could act against physicians in states that have not legalized assisted suicide, and even in Oregon when “a physician fails to comply with state procedures in doing so.” By ruling that the DEA would actively help Oregon enforce its policy of authorizing some assisted suicides while forbidding others, Ms. Reno made a congressional response inevitable.

On the day of the attorney general’s ruling, Representatives Henry Hyde (R-IL) and James Oberstar (D-MN) introduced H.R. 4006, the Lethal Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 1998. Senator Don Nickles (R-OK), the Assistant Majority Leader of the Senate, introduced a Senate version (S. 2151) four days later. Both bills would clarify the Controlled Substances Act by stating that a medical practitioner who misuses controlled substances to assist suicides may lose his or her DEA registration. The bills distinguish assisted suicide from legitimate use of drugs for pain management, using language endorsed by the American Medical Association (AMA) last year as part of the Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act. A physician investigated by the DEA may demand a hearing before an advisory panel of medical experts, who can advise the DEA on whether his or her actions are consistent with the legitimate purpose of controlling pain.

Despite the sponsors’ commitment to encouraging legitimate use of drugs for pain control, the AMA and some other medical groups oppose the legislation. While reaffirming that assisted suicide is “incompatible with the physician’s role as healer,” the AMA has somewhat confusingly attacked the legislation as a “federal intrusion” into “the practice of medicine.” It adds that the legislation will have a “chilling effect” on the use of drugs for pain control.

Internet Essay – Freenet, Survey and Implications

Freenet: Survey and Implications

Abstract: Freenet is a peer to peer file sharing network protocol, first conceived by Ian Clarke, and designed to meet several goals: scalability, anonymity of both publishing and reading, and immunity to all but the most determined denial-of-service (DOS) attacks, whether legal or technological in nature. This paper briefly examines some of Freenet’s predecessors, examines how Freenet attempts to achieve its design goals, and examines the implications of a fully functional, world scale Freenet.

Keywords: Freenet, peer-to-peer, p2p, open source, file sharing, Ian Clarke, copyright, censorship, intellectual property.

Historical Background: Peer-to-peer is an idea as old as the internet. From the first days of Arpanet, it was recognized that arranging computers in an anarchic, rather than hierarchal configuration offered far greater scalability and reliability. (Brand, 2001) Once the internet began to be widely implemented, it also became clear that to a great degree, it also offered anonymity.

Approximately two years ago, Shawn Fanning released the Napster client beta. Napster usage immediately began to increase at an exponential rate, and new users signed up almost as soon as they heard about it. (Napster, 2001). Until that time, the internet had been moving increasingly towards a central server model, away from the original idea of a collection of peers. (Shirky, 2000). Indeed, Napster also uses a central server, although it is only to create an easily accessible catalog of all files available at any particular moment. All actual file copying takes place directly between two client machines, and it is also the clients who decide what, if any, content is available to the network. (Napster, 2001)

Although Napster was, and remains immensely popular, it was also recognized that it was not the type of program that powerful intellectual property providers were going to accept easily. In fact, a matter of months after release, and soon after incorporating, the brand new Napster, Inc., was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America. (Napster, 2000).

However, it was quickly recognized that Napster was only vulnerable to legal attack because a central entity was required to run the indexing servers. Nullsoft, who created Winamp, a popular Mp3 player for Windows, soon released Gnutella, a proof-of-concept design that built upon the Napster idea by sharing all types of files, not just Mp3s, and needed no central servers at all. Although Gnutella remained on the Nullsoft website for only 24 hours before parent company AOL removed it, it was quickly disseminated to much of the internet, reverse engineered, and new clients based on the original protocol were released.

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