From early ages we learn to listen to the people around us, but only at a later time we get to understand that what those people are saying may not be true or in our advantage. I believe this sets us up for the rest of life to partially believe even the most ridiculous claims for the sole reason that someone has uttered them. And who better to take advantage of this than politicians and lawyers.
Check out these stupid ideas:
- Ad blocking may not be entirely legal - In other words, if someone were to help you personally to avoid all the annoying flashing and blinking and popping ads on a site, they would infringe some law of revenue. While this may sound preposterous, try googling for AdBlockPlus and you will see a myriad pages accusing successful ad-blockers of diminishing web site revenues. And if you think this is just the lament of sore losers happy to distribute their content at almost no cost on the Internet, but wanting to take money from you unencumbered, or if you think that being your browser, your computer and your money paying for the connection you should have some sort of rights, check this out: CoralQQ author arrested in 2007.
- Free Internet porn is unfair competition to pay sites! - I may soon be accused of distributing free content on my blog as unfair competition to the ad ridden ones, if that is the case. I sure wouldn't want to hurt those, no sir. I find it terribly funny that the case against free porn was dismissed as an action designed to censor free speech (in legal terms a SLAPP).
- Making software that allows one to make better use of software or a device, be it a computer, XBox, PlayStation or IPhone, is illegal! - As you can see from the Wikipedia link someone wrote in the first paragraph "The distribution and use of cracked copies is illegal in almost every developed country". Major arrested development! You may have heard that recently the unhackable PlayStation3 has been hacked. The funny thing is that with each new version, Sony seems to remove functionality, making PlayStation one of the few devices that are better old than new. When they found out about the hack Sony started a major law action against sites that post the hack solution for their crappy console. Apparently, their perspective is that you never owned the console, but you "rented it", while spending time to make software that allows you, the user, to do what you want with the thing you paid good money for, but is still not yours, it's illegal. They phrase it in a very funny way, too, saying that the hacking actions "are circumventing effective protection methods". Well, they aren't very effective, now, are they?
- Major sites that distribute large content like video should pay extra; people watching should pay extra, too; ISPs should pay a lot; the Internet should be split into low rent and high rent areas. One might argue that since one does pay for the Internet connection at both ends, it should not be an issue what they are doing with it. That may be too late for Canadians, who always seemed very decent to me, as they got a new law voted on the 25th of January allowing Usage Based Billing for ISPs. People are now outraged and are protesting rather than swallow it, but already the coolness of Canada has been forever sullied in my eyes.
- Using encryption of your own data on your own device is illegal! - The Indian government demanded that Blackberry find a way to allow authorities to read the encrypted data on their devices or at least disable the option for Indian devices, else face a national ban. Of course, they "reasoned" it is all for the sake of the people and against terrorist acts. It now seems unlikely they will proceed with the ban, but still, the whole thing begs the question: how come they didn't ask this of other device manufacturers? Also, it may be of some interest to the reader that all major instant messaging tools like Yahoo, MSN (now Windows Messenger) or GTalk do not feature encryption. Skype does, but guess what? They also provide some eavesdropping tools.
The list could go on and on and on, but these were both startlingly ridiculous and pretty recent. Apparently, the DRM bug, the one that made people sell you things and then consider it's still their property, is still alive and thriving. Most such beliefs come from the power we give other by not reacting. It is easier for us to do nothing than do something, so it is easy to take advantage by positioning the average human so that he has to do something to thwart your plans.