You've probably heard the story about the HD-DVD encryption key. After it was cracked, someone posted it on a popular website, where a few people started to notice. Then again, something being cracked like that is not uncommon nowadays. However, this would turn out different. The FCC, having heard about this, told the website administrators to take down the information on the key. They complied. People were outraged at this. The Federal Communications Commission were basically censoring a number. True, it was a 128-bit number, but it was a number nevertheless. It just so happened to be an encryption key. In response to this, everybody posted the number all over the internet. As of today (May 9), only one week after the event originally transpired, a Google search for the number yields almost 2 million results. So rather then something that would remain small, it became the Next Big Thing.

So, where am I going with all this? It's an example of the counter-effects of censorship. If an authoritative group decides to ban something, then the reaction of the people is to revolt against it. For the most part, they will be encouraged, rather than dissuaded, from taking part in the now forbidden activity. That's just the way society works. We love to revolt. If there's a way to stick it to the man, then we will take it. So why do we see so many attemps at censorship? One reason is possibly a false sense of security. Even though someone may observe similar attempts fail, there is still the misconception that it will be done right this time. And you know what? It doesn't. Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it, and those who do suffer the same fate.

There is the argument that without restrictions, it would be total anarchy. Now I do believe that there should be some rules, but they need to be enforceable. Murder? Get the killer. Make sure he doesn't escape. Jaywalking? Meh. If you get rid of those that are restrictive but unenforceable, you've gotten rid of a major incentive. What fun is it to do a certain thing now that it's perfectly legal? Take for instance drinking. In the US, the legal age is set at 21 years of age. People don't want to wat that long. They want to be able to drink, and they want to do it now. So what do they do? They order up a few beers at age 17. All of a sudden, there's a major underage drinking problem. In addition, binge drinking hospitalises many people a year. Meanwhile, in Europe the laws are a lot less strict. In the UK, for example, you can drink at any age provided that it's at home. And so when they grow up, there's no need to sneak in, drink as much as possible, and end up in the ER with liver problems. And you know what? It works. So why censor when it makes things even worse?

Oh, and by the way, 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0.