The recent debacle over the iPhone 4G leak and Gizmodo’s attempt to capitalize was on every tech news section the past couple of weeks. As you may have read, Gizmodo’s Editor Jason Chen’s house was raided and his computer equipment was seized. While, I think Gizmodo stunts were cheap and their website should get defaced (online equivalent of a punch in the face), I agree with Michael Malone’s opinion that big companies are almost totalitarian.
Despite the phone being returned and the possibility that Jason Chen could have been protected by the Shield Law, such brute force seems excessive. At first, I brushed it off since the scum got what the scum deserved. But if such incidents happen without much criticism or backlash, I fear the day when normal citizens get arrested for breaking “Terms & Conditions” or other Software license agreements.
Consider the possibility that your 12-year old son finds a copy of a pirated software on the Internet and installs it. Somewhere in the legal fine print, it states that
"... you agree that you have purchased this software legally and if pirated, we warrant the ability to track you and punish you to the fullest extent of the law." Being an impatient 12-year old, your son ignores all 5000 words of the fine print and upon the first launch, the software company gets notified along with the user’s IP address that the serial number registered is a pirated version. The software company will promptly figure out the address based on the IP and arrest you, the parent (since the child is protected because of his age and it was the parent’s responsibility to monitor the child), who had no knowledge of this install. Or your computer gets seized and the cops discover the illegal music you downloaded years back and the software company sets the
dogs err.. record companies go after you.
If incidents like Jason Chen’s home raid are ignored, this future will not be far… so Internet beware.