Suppression of Dead Sea Scrolls, anti-hacker mentality have more in common than you think

Control of information, more than any other issue, defines our ethics, societies and chance to improve

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The important thing about the Scrolls isn't what's in them. It's in the story about how they were locked up, controlled and used as leverage to impose a set of interpretations and conditions on anyone outside the holy circle who wanted access.

The principle is the same – though the legalities and context are different – in controversies over WikiLeaks, Anonymous and the unauthorized release (outright theft) of information that is struggling to be free.

Information doesn't want to be free, but laws protecting all of us from some of us don't want information locked up solely for the benefit of those who can squeeze the most money or power from it.

That's why we have free libraries in the U.S. And free schools.

Information isn't free; it's valuable. Sometimes it's dangerous, so releasing it without proper care – publishing all the Cablegate cables without excising the names of secret sources who could be killed if they're discovered, for example – can be a disaster.

Information doesn't want to be free …

That tendency toward selfish secretiveness, not the thrill of seeing diplomats write in un-stilted language or read about the private lives of foreign dignitaries, is as good a justification for WikiLeaks and Anonymous as any other argument.

I can't agree with many of the methods of crackers and hactivists and fraudsters who have made cyberwar more of a reality than the people supposed to be fighting it want to admit.

Most of it is just criminal sabotage or theft or espionage.

Trying to counter it by spending so much energy trying to put whistleblowers like Julian Assange in prison rather than doing more mundane thing – like keeping East European Mafiosi and Chinese spies from walking into your data farm and snacking on everything they want – is counterproductive.

It's silly to try to urge balance in a crackdown against hackers that has barely started, but we don't do things to half measure in this country. Nothing counts unless it's extreme.

Shutting down every hacker and every whistleblower by imposing the same harsh sentences on the kid going self-serve Freedom of Information request fulfillment by discovering the illegal, un-Constitutional dirty tricks being planned by a security company employed by the government is a lot different than stealing a million credit card numbers from Sony.

…it wants to shine with use

I don't think all information wants to be free, as Hacker jingoist .sigs phrase it.

Not all information can be free, or should.

It doesn't want to be shut up in one scholar's lab for 50 years like the Dead Sea Scrolls, though, either.

Photo Credit: 

Thompson/Reuters

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