August 13, 2002

Geeks should give up on government?

There's an interesting opinion piece by Declan McCullagh that basically states that geeks should give up on politics and try to solve political problems by creating new technology that subverts the politcal system. [Thanks for the link, Doug]

I take issue with McCullagh's attitude that geeks should just give up on the political fight, however. As more and more laws are passed, it will become increasingly difficult for programmers to "program past" the laws. The laws will become too restrictive. For example, laws that force makers of software and hardware devices to include digital rights management (or you can't copy this) features in their code effectively limit the creation of file sharing applications of any sort of significance.

And it should be noted that sometimes geeks do make a difference. When the Russian programmer that broke Adobe's eBook copy protection, Dmitry Sklyarov, was arrested under pressure from Adobe, many geeks were in uproar and complained directly to Adobe. Many of these geeks are Adobe's customers. Adobe has since lifted the pressure on the justice department to prosecute. In my opinion, they should first pay all of Sklyarov's legal fees, then they should give him a big fat reward for pointing out the security flaws in the eBook system!

Posted by Eli at August 13, 2002 12:06 PM
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