The Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) is a federal law that makes it illegal to make money from electronic information transactions that are not required in a computer-based transaction.
It’s not as bad as it sounds. If you’re in a computerized system that is not connected to the Internet, then the UCITA is a moot point, because the transaction itself is not illegal. The transaction itself simply isn’t required when the computer is in use, and the law doesn’t target these “non-Internet” systems.
UCITA is an interesting statute because it appears to apply to all kinds of systems. There are few laws that make it illegal to do business on a computer system, but UCITA is one of them. All computers and Internet-connected systems are required by law to be connected to the Internet. The problem is that the law states that the computer must have this connection in order to be used.
This is not to say that UCITA applies to all computers, but it does apply to the vast majority. As long as you are connected to the Internet, you can do business on a computer. The problem is that there is no such thing as a computer that is not connected to the Internet. But UCITA is not so much about business as it is about “consent.
How can something be illegal if you have a computer you have a contract with? Many people who sell on the Internet make these same arguments. But UCITA requires that they have a computer connected to the Internet. And while this might seem like a technicality, it makes many of them feel uncomfortable.
Companies like PayPal, Yahoo!, and Google are in the business of selling and providing online services. But UCITA is specifically about consent, not property. It’s true that the government can regulate commerce because, well, it’s a government. But a government that does not give consent is a government that does not get to regulate commerce, and thus has no power to regulate anything. And that’s what UCITA is about.
As far as I can tell, the UCITA was proposed by the Obama administration and signed by the president on June 19. The law is set to go into effect on October 1. If you read the fine print of the law, the UCITA is an attempt to control both the internet and cell phones. It also says that the government can use the law to force “uniform” information transactions to be in a certain format.
UCITA attempts to force a certain format on the internet and cell phones, and it seems to be working. So far I have yet to interact with my cell phone over UCITA, but I will be checking my email regularly. I’ve also noticed an interesting quirk in the law’s rules about which websites can be forced to be in a certain format. The law makes it so that “a website on the Internet” can be forced to be in a certain standard format.
The law applies to websites that have content. The law doesn’t apply to websites that have links. The idea is that once a website has a link on it, it is no longer a website.
UCITA is a standard that the FCC has put forth to put the law on the books. Many websites will be forced to adhere to the law and be in the standard format for the purposes of being accessible to people who might have cell phones. I think that this one small step towards making people less paranoid about their cell data can help a lot when it comes to keeping the internet safe from cyber-terrorists and trolls.