Getting realistic in the war on hackers

Friday, 18 April 2003, 12:06 PM EST

The war on hackers is failing for the same reason the war on drugs failed: Most individuals can control themselves, but there is a substantial group of people for whom no legal penalties will be enough to discourage their behavior.

The temptation to try and "beat the system" that is often felt by hackers and crackers, and even just regular computer users, can be enormous. People will succumb to the temptation to pirate copyrighted material, to disable copy protection on software, and to try and break into other people's computer systems.

Meanwhile, the costs associated with the war on hackers are unreasonable: the PATRIOT act, the DMCA and similar bills now working their way through state legislatures will cause irreparable harm to the rights of all Americans -- and those costs alone likely exceed the benefits offered by these laws.

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