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Re: [dvd-discuss] The power of a click

On 2001-12-03 16:56, Scott A Crosby wrote:
> On Mon, 3 Dec 2001, Christophe Beauregard wrote:

> > The effect on the legal system would be similar to a large drug
> > cartel breaking into hundreds of thousands of vehicles and planting
> > some marijuana butts (or whatever) in the ashtrays.
> I was only pointing out that there isn't safety in numbers, at least
> if the number of people is under a million. If they can arrest the
> greater part of a million marijuana users a year, whats to keep them
> from calling all of us evil hackers and arresting the million of us?
> Nothing.

True enough.

But what I was pointing out is that there's a large difference in how 
you go about identifying illegal activity. In the case of marijuana, 
it's not so often that a person possesses it without consuming it. 
Certainly, it's only a very small fraction of of marijuana users.

With a network system, it's possible to skew the numbers, if only 
temporarily, such that the majority of "users" are, in fact, ignorant 
of their participation. If you add the threat of criminal prosecution 
into the equation the incentive for doing this becomes much, much 
greater. At this point, the only way to tell that someone is actually 
using freenet (or a similar system) is to catch them in the act of 
issuing requests. In drug war terms, this means actually using the 
drug, not possessing it.

Making things worse, you have to keep in mind that the class of systems 
that you'd want to infect would be higher bandwidth targets, 
representing a very different class of person being prosecuted. The war 
on drugs would probably not be received very well by the public if the 
people usually being arrested were typical suburbanites.

The war on drugs and japanese internment in WWII are good examples of 
how far a government will go if they see fit, but I suspect that things 
will have to degenerate a lot more before we see a "war on hackers". 
The japanese internment happened in a very different environment than 
today. For one thing, there was a war against an identifiable group of 
people who "weren't like us". For another, there was a very different 
viewpoint then with respect to human rights.

Even the war on drugs has some half decent motivation, even if the 
methodology and results leave a lot to be desired.

Even with hollywood behind them, the government would be hard-pressed 
to come up with PR bad enough to start a full out war on hackers.


Christophe Beauregard
Informatics Specialist, Software
ADS Trenton
Environment Canada
(613) 965-2762