Wednesday, December 16, 2009

People who don't understand an arms race aren't doomed to repeat it...`

This article is amusing. Apparently geeks can build Napster to circumvent "stuff" so geeks should be able to build a better RC filter.

Here's some history for you.

"Stuff" initially was "we're already sharing files via DCC on the Internet Relay Chat system (IRC); let's make an indexed, shiny, graphical, automated version of that!" It wasn't to circumvent any kind of censorship or filtering, and it wasn't a great leap of imagination. It was a small, incremental improvement over what existed. The only reason you think it was a big leap for a lone teenager is that Napster popularised file sharing. It made it easy for the average teenager to do.

Secondly, there are most likely individuals and companies profiting off the construction and use of non-web based distribution of RC materials. Filtering web traffic won't stop this distribution - it will simply stop the web distribution of RC materials. The filtering technology will quickly grow to counter these needs, and then new tools will appear to circumvent the filter. This is a classic arms race, pure and simple.

The only people who profiteer from an arms race are the arms dealers. In this case, the arms dealers are the companies developing tools to distribute the material, and companies developing tools to filter the material.

The astute reader should draw a parallel between what I've described and malware/viruses versus anti-virus software. Why is it we can't filter viruses 100%? Because there's money to be made in both writing the nasty software and filtering the nasty software. The end-users end up paying the price.

This censorship nonsense will suffer the same fate.

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