Friday, 4 November 2016

Why we need to be able to break the law?

I will get straight away to providing you my answer.
News told us the other day Americans are finally allowed to hack their own devices. Up until this point in time, breaking the DRM (for example) on devices that you have bought fair and square constituted some sort of a legal infringement. Say, you bought a PlayStation but wanted to run games that Sony didn't want you to; or, you're a farmer, and you wanted to services your John Deere tractor yourself instead of paying an arm and a leg to the manufacturer. Now you can do both.
It seems common sense that you should have always been able to do these things; after all, they are yours, you paid hard earned money for them. After all, no one tells you how to sit on a chair you bought of IKEA or whether you just wanted some firewood, so why should they care about your PS3? But the law told us otherwise.
Now, can you imagine the law being amended in the first place if it wasn't for a multitude of people operating at its shadowy end, demonstrating again and again how dumb this law is?

We learn it again and again. Laws that we now consider absurd, such as woman = their man's property, or dark colored people inability to vote, or - going back further - slavery, were all abolished through the efforts of people working at the twilight of those laws. People who, let's be blunt, broke the law.
Now consider the surveillance society we are already living in and the surveillance society our esteemed leaders would gladly establish if we just let them take those few extra measures to reign in terrorism. In a society such as that, no one would be able to keep in the dark edges of the law. No one would be able to demonstrate that breaking the DRM of our devices is actually quite a positive thing to do.
Do we really want to live in such a society?
I pity the citizens of the UK, with their CCTV cameras per capita records. But the reality is, the rest of us are not too far from Orwell's vision either.

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