There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. – Ayn Rand
Whenever something gets to be seen as a “problem”, you hear clamors for prohibition. People drink themselves to death, we need alcohol prohibition. People ruin their lives with drugs, we need drug prohibition. People spout hate speech, we need censorship. People shoot each other, we need gun prohibition, or at least gun control.
That’s because prohibition always works, you know, like government always works! See for yourself:
In 1919, the U.S. government decided that alcoholism was such a grave problem that they passed – not just a law but a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit the production, transportation, importation, sale and not least consumption of alcohol in the United States. This prohibition became such an enormous success that you couldn’t find alcoholic beverages anywhere within the U.S. of A. Ask any citizen, for example in Chicago, and they’d tell you there was nowhere to find so much as a can of beer.
Evidently, government control of alcohol was a giant success but for some reason the same government decided to abolish the prohibition in 1933. This so annoyed a large number of organized criminals that they went out of business, contributing to the unemployment problems of the 1930s and putting a serious dent in the violent crime statistics.
During the 1960s, habitual use of mind-altering drugs became fashionable among hippies and quickly spread to other groups. Such drugs had been illegal for some time but the prohibition had not been enforced. The governments of the world quickly realized that life without an enforced prohibition was life not worth living, and besides we couldn’t just let them damn hippies smoke pot, now could we? This was the start of the highly successful “War on Drugs” that revitalized the Organized Crime trade and made it impossible to obtain any kind of narcotics, anywhere in any country that took care to enforce the prohibition. I mean, just ask any teenager today if they know where to buy marijuana, hashish, cocaine, heroin, LSD, or anything else illegal! They will probably look at you cross-eyed! This of course to signify that they don’t know, that stuff is ILLEGAL dude!
To take another example, up until the late 1960s, pornography was illegal in Denmark. Rest assured that, as a result, such filth didn’t exist in Denmark. At all. Just like people in those countries where pornography is still prohibited would never dream of surfing X-rated websites. Yup!
Another problem plaguing the world today is that of racism, bigotry, and intolerance. This, of course, is caused by hate speech. If people would stop saying ugly things about each other, they will also stop thinking those things. Political Correctness would have ended all kinds of hate speech decades ago if it were only enforced by governments, but sadly it isn’t. It would be just as great a success as the War on Pornography was or is. Or the War on Drugs. (Just ask anywhere in Europe where to find a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf! You won’t find a single copy, anywhere! Especially not in those countries where it is prohibited by law.)
The really great thing about censorship is that the government gets to decide what you can and cannot say, ensuring that the decision will be wise, unbiased, and will not be designed to protect those currently in power from criticism.
Guns. They kill people. People don’t kill people, only guns do. That is why we have strict gun control laws in Europe, so criminals don’t get their hands on dangerous firearms. It is such a great success that you never hear reports of armed criminals over here. Make guns illegal, and they vanish into thin air. Betcha! (I can prove this! I can point to no more than ten or twenty shooting episodes between rivaling gangs in the Greater Copenhagen area this year, and we’re nearly in April!)
In Mexico, I am sad to say, gun control is only a partial success. Citizens don’t have guns. Police officers have small sidearms. Army soldiers have rifles. Drug gangs (which don’t smuggle drugs, because drugs are illegal and therefore don’t exist) have pistols, rifles, shotguns, assault weapons, machine guns, mortars, flamethrowers, rocket launchers, and whatever else they can lay their hands on. That is why I called it a partial success, because the honest part of Mexico’s population has no guns. Only the criminals do.
Yep, if anything offends you, the easiest solution is to get government to prohibit it. That will make it go away, immediately, and it will never offend your eyes again.
And if you believe this, I have a bridge for sale. Real cheap!
At the time of writing, the hacker group “Anonymous” is threatening to attack Sweden’s official IT systems through a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. This is the same kind of attack that certain criminal gangs use to extort money from businesses: Give us a five-digit amount of dollars/euros, or we will flood your website with requests until it breaks down, so nobody can get onto it.
To flood a website, the attackers hack into thousands of computers throughout the world and install a virus which turns the computers into “zombies”. The attackers can now trigger them remotely to send requests to the victim’s website at the same time, overloading the site.
The same modus operandi is used by Anonymous. The reason they are now threatening Sweden is that the Swedish authorities have implemented and tried to enforce anti-piracy legislation; for example by blocking access to websites such as The Pirate Bay and shutting down other “file-sharing” sites.
What the Swedish authorities have said is that property is property, even if it is “only” intellectual property, and that theft of intellectual property is theft, not “file sharing”. Which is the truth.
What the hackers of “Anonymous” want is “Something for nothing”. They believe that just because a piece of music has been written, they have a right to listen to it. That if a piece of software (in particular computer games) has been developed, they have a right to use it. And if a movie has been made, they have a right to watch it.
Their argument is that, if they couldn’t download music, software, and movies, they wouldn’t buy them and just live without them. Or, if the composers of music, developers of software and writers of movies would just create higher-quality content, they would pay for it.
But if the quality is so horrible, why do they download the content?
Errr… Because …. errr, ummm…..
The truth is, they do NOT have a right to play a game or watch a movie without paying for it. Somebody worked their hindquarters off to develop the game or shoot the movie, and they like to be paid for their effort. They didn’t create content as a charity, they did it for … yes, for money! And they should be paid money by anyone who wishes to enjoy their content!
This is what the Swedish government has tried to say. This is what the thieves of Anonymous wish to punish the Swedish government for saying.
It doesn’t matter whether the musicians or software companies they steal content from are rich or poor – successful or striving. The basic principle remains the same:
The hackers want something for nothing.
Which means somebody else should get nothing for something!
And when somebody says, “No, you can’t get that!”, they threaten to attack that somebody until they yield.
Their action looks suspiciously like a protection racket. “Give us what we want, or we smash your business!”
No, I don’t consider Anonymous a group of “freedom fighters” fighting for the right to free enjoyment of intellectual property and the rights of the oppressed masses.
Rather, I consider them a gang of thieves and bullies!
Not a day goes by without some story or other about somebody having been ripped off on the ‘net. Either they have sent their savings to some Nigerian “oil tycoon” who needed to smuggle ten billion dollars out of his country, or a “lonely Russian lady” has managed to lure a few thousand euros out of a similarly lonely, and overly trustful, gentleman in the West. Other people win in Internet lotteries they don’t remember entering and learn too late that the registrar asking for their bank account details wasn’t planning to make a deposit, but a withdrawal.
So why, if we hear about all these frauds, do people never seem to learn? It’s not like they haven’t had time or opportunity – we hear about such scams just about every day, and I received my first Nigerian money letter back when I was at university and the Internet consisted of a Usenet with text-based discussion groups and text-based email (a totally novel concept at the time). In other words, these scams have been around for more than twenty years.
I pride myself of never having fallen for scams with one exception: When I started receiving spam mail on my first Hotmail account, I was stupid or naïve enough to click the “Please Unsubscribe Me” link. Which of course only sent the signal to the spammers that my email account existed and was active, ensuring that I received thrice as much spam! DOH!
I’m wondering if some sort of “Driver’s License” should be required, or at the very least offered, before people are let loose on the ‘net.
Unfortunately I don’t consider myself a teacher, and I don’t know about all the scams of the world. So let this be my call to Internet service providers and other entrepreneurs: Please start offering courses on Internet Security & Awareness for overly trustful users. Here are a few ideas for the curriculum (and warnings for my readers):
- If it seems too good to be true, it is. You can’t win a lottery you never entered into, and Nigerian princes who offer you 20% of half a billion dollars just for the loan of your bank account don’t exist. And nobody gives away free iPads or Blackberries.
- There is such a thing as too much information. When you post information on the Internet, everybody can read it. Your neighbor, teacher, boss, or your parents. Or a completely random guy on the other side of the Earth. If you post your information in a “closed” community, somebody else may download it and re-post it elsewhere. As a ground rule, if you wouldn’t tell something to a random stranger in a dark alley, you shouldn’t tell it on the Internet.
(Example: Burglars routinely check Facebook for people’s holiday plans. If you tell your friends on Facebook that you’ll be on holiday in Spain the next 14 days, a burglar will see that as an Open House invitation for the next two weeks.)
- You can’t un-upload what you’ve uploaded on the Internet. If you upload a picture or a video of yourself today and regret it tomorrow, it may already have been seen by 100,000 people around the globe. They may even have downloaded it and re-uploaded it since there is apparently no sense of ownership on the ‘net.
(And yet people think little of uploading pictures of themselves drunk and/or semi-nude. Or not just semi-nude. It may seem like a lark today but not so in five years time when you’re applying for a job in a bank.)
- On the Internet nobody knows if you’re a dog. And more importantly, you don’t know if the other guy is a dog! An email apparently from your bank may not be from your bank at all. Did they send it to you personally? Or is it addressed to “Dear valued customer”? Do they ask for personal information (a bank would NEVER ask for your logon name or password in an email)? Other warning signs of phishing mail is: Poor English, or poorly translated language, possibly even machine-translated into your language. A great sense of urgency – threatens to close your account if you don’t act immediately, to make you act first and think later.