More Digg Fallout

    May 4, 2007

As the fallout continues on the Digg and AACS key, probably the most cogent statement made in this whole process is civil disobedience as performance art.

In the past it was fashionable to assert that the Internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it. In the current era we might say that "Web 2.0 treats censorship as inspiration and creates performance around it." Source:

As the process keeps on digging deeper, and the popular press has made more and more of Digg’s capitation to the people involved in the whole shooting match, the problems between Web 2.0 sites, the safe harbor provision, copyrighted material in comment or in its other formats becomes more noticeable over time.

If web sites rely on customer created content, customers are going to write about things that interest them. If cracking AACS keys happens to be that interest, then that is what is going to happen. What was once something that was regulated to a minor hacking board, doom9 has now been translated into color codes, octal, binary, t-shirts, and has gotten more attention than it otherwise would have.

Few people care about the AACS key, what they care about is the idea that any information can be suppressed once it reaches the populace. While everyone is talking about mob rules, DMCA compliance, and a host of other things, the whole event with Digg, and what is happening with what was a little known key segment has made a popular cause, and everyone small and large have jumped onto the band wagon as art, civil disobedience, or as something they truly believe in.

There is no equitable solution any more to the AACS key debacle that has erupted over the last couple of days. Moreover, even though Reddit has also complied, they are facing the same issues, if you can search reddit and still find 16 copies of the key. Reddit users are probably just as passionate as Digg users, however, both sites are very different in how they operate and how stories get promoted.

Suppression of information when it becomes a celebrity cause is going to be impossible, but this is also good information for people moving forward. If you are doing something that people feel passionately about, and the damage is limited to a known number of people, then that is one thing. If suppression becomes a free speech how can you copyright a string of numbers or letters, or words, or anything else, then therein lies the problem. Shining the spotlight on an issue is sometimes not advisable.

The major labels, the people who make crypto keys and have DRM, or other ways of limiting content will face and have faced equally clever people who will break their stuff. It is that simple, it happens, has happened and will continue to happen. It looks like there is an additional threat now, in that attempting to suppress the information has also become an equally viable issue that companies need to also think about before figuring out how they want to go about getting the information deleted. If the companies had gone after doom9 the minute it was available, the hackers would have gone somewhere else, but the damage would have been limited. In conjunction with that, going after the cache pages in Google, Yahoo, Live and others would have also sufficed.

Adding how to manage the loss of critical or key information is equally important to your information security plan. How to contain the damage caused by trying to suppress information should be part of the companies disaster preparedness plan in the longer run. What we learn from RIAA, MPAA and AACS should give pause and advice to any CEO.