Friday, July 23, 2010

Scaremongering And General Incoherent Nonsense in Video Piracy\Anti-Terrorism Billboard

Take a look at this:

Have you ever seen such tripe? It's idiotic and Orwellian all at the same time. So much is so wrong here, I don't even know where to start. But I'll try.

"A bomb won't go off here because weeks before the criminal pirating films was caught by monitoring his internet history"(sic)

Leaving aside the terrible punctuation (or lack thereof)*, this is a mishmash of flawed logic, non-sequitors, scaremongering and outright technological ignorance. The only thing missing is a kiddie porn reference and the scaremongering would be complete.

A bomb (not going off, mind you). Illegally copying films. Same person  involved in both. Ergo, illegal copying of films = terrorism, or aiding terrorism. ' basically what's being implied here is that anyone ripping or downloading films for personal use is a terrorist. And if they're not, we should monitor their internet usage anyway, just to be sure. And while we're at it, why not everyone else's, too?

Just in case, you know.

I'm willing to grant that there are people in the world who make and distribute illegal copies of films for profit, and that some of them may be involved in unsavoury activities. But really, how many of the people you know actually pay for illegal copies of films? Most people simply download, watch and delete.

And those who are in the illegal distribution-for-profit business will almost certainly know how to cover their tracks. They'll either use a copy bought legitimately and copy it offline (no internet history), or they'll download it using an anonymous proxy server or Tor-type network. It's VERY difficult to track what happens behind the anonymiser. Either way, internet monitoring is not very useful.

So what's going on here? Does increasing internet surveillance on the general public, aided and abetted by a TIPS -type operation REALLY help prevent terrorism? Or does this merely contribute to a paranoid, TERRORISED citizenry, where those encouraging this kind of a society are complicit in aiding the real terrorists by scaring the bejaysus out of the very people they're supposed to protect? 

At best this is a huge waste of time and resources. Bruce Schneier wrote about this a few years back. At worst, it's reminiscent of Stalinist Russia at its worst, with everyone watching everyone else, scared shitless they're going to be the next ones to hear a knock on the door at 4am. Over the top? Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

My guess is that the copyright protection crowd have taken advantage of the 9/11 7/7 paranoia to associate piracy to terrorism, and the security services have gleefully indulged. These days, if you can plant that association you're on to a sure thing. The security services are always happy to have more visibility over what happens on the internet, thank you very much, so everyone's a winner.

Except the public.

Thanks to @crntaylor for the picture on Twitter.


*And who wrote that awful phrase? Have they never heard of commas?


Posted via email from John's posterous