Upholding laws must not be about attacking the tools and methods used to break laws, but instead used to punish actual criminal acts.
The entertainment industry has been flailing about, attacking a huge number of targets. It's gotten to the point that law enforcement branches have been created and international treaties signed. People have been extradited .. to be charged for something that's not illegal in their country.
There are some serious issues with crafting laws which go after methods, because those same laws can be abused in other circumstances, for other methods.
Copyright infringement ∞
Copyright infringement (commonly, but incorrectly, called "piracy") has legitimate concerns. Most of which I disagree with, but that's for another time.
The entertainment industry has a history of attacking a person who makes a copy. This seems reasonable enough.
However, the direction is moving towards including anyone who helps make a copy possible. Domain names, search engines, BitTorrent trackers. Even websites which are just a collection of magnet links or indexes of NZBs are being attacked.
Corporate entities have been pushing their political arm to manufacture laws crafted to attack methods which are related to instances of crime. This is really, really, bad. It might be easier to understand why by drawing a comparison to other crimes and their common method.
Let me give a thorough example using speech. It can be used to all sorts of nefarious ends.
There are, however, much more subtle things.
An outright lie or a subtle fallacy can be used in a confidence trick ("scam"). They are also used in pseudoscience with the "power of suggestion", mind over matter and other bullshit. There are things like a placebo effect or malingering a factitious disorder and more.
People have been and can be convinced of all sorts of things. From what to believe, to what to act on. Some of these things have positives, and some have negatives.
- The various "end of the world" hypotheses, including the pseudosciences in the various forms of eschatology and especially the religious varieties (Hinduism Judaism, Christianity, Islam)
- "Free energy" devices as well as all kinds of unsubstantiated shit relating to anti-gravity devices (or just learning to think special thoughts and bounce around until you can fly.).
- Ufology is a lot of talk.
- Psychics and all kinds of shit like "psychic reading".
- All of religion. All of it.
The list goes on and on and on.
"Drinking the Kool-Aid" is a phrase sometimes used to describe the easily-convinced.
So yes, speech can be dangerous. Very dangerous.
Something must be done about speech! ∞
So if all those bad bad things can happen because of speech, steps must be taken to restrain it!
Any users of speech should be registered. Any occurrence of speech monitored. Special new laws must be made so that listeners can report offences of speech.
Can you sense just how fucked up this can get?
Laws are not supposed to be about preventing a method but about punishing crimes.
Preventing a method is too vague, especially when there are perfectly valid uses for methods. There is the perception that some methods are "obviously" for crime or are "too easily abused".
Guns are dangerous, so they should only be sold to people after a criminal background check. Ok, I can get that. Not to kids either, right? Locking guns up when not in use? No civilian-owned assault weapons?
Certain chemicals are very dangerous, so perhaps laws should exist for their manufacture, handling, sale and use.
The slippery slope of laws on tools and methods can keep going and going unless stopped -- by civic-minded citizens. Oh .. we're fucked.
Where the slope goes from here ∞
Computers have back doors in them, from CPUs (Trusted Computing etc), to BIOS which are so complex as to bury them, to operating systems, and of course software -- and not just malware but any proprietary software and even open source or free software.
Hardware isn't open, and neither are the majority of communication equipment (routers, modems, etc). Lines can be tapped, internet service providers can either bug or be bugged. Similar issues exist on the server end of things.
All of that exists, and the entertainment industry moves to attack specific communications protocols like BitTorrent. This is attacking a tool/method instead of either protecting their goods or attacking the criminals.
Everyone's privacy is being invaded when back doors exist, or logging is enabled to help track down criminals. This is like recording everyone's speech just in case a criminal uses speech to break a law.
The world keeps drifting down this odd slope. Perhaps one day it will be:
You might be able to keep copyrighted material, so just in case you're not legally allowed to have local storage. It must all be cloud-based, and constantly patrolled by the entertainment industry.
Everything you do will be monitored and recorded indefinitely, just in case you break the laws created by private corporations.
Oh by the way, copyright is now indefinite and there's no more fair use.
And if you think about fighting the laws, maybe you'll get a drone strike. Maybe. Sleep well, citizen!