I was infuriated reading this story in my local paper today: http://www.mercurynews.com/crime/ci_6411527 about systems which alert police officers anytime someone buys cold medication. It’s a truly ridiculous end of the ridiculous “war on drugs” and the precedent it sets is horrifying. But then I got to wondering why no one has done anything to disrupt systems such as this, the illegal wiretapping, and so forth. There are legions of people out there willing to break the law with computers, and they seem to spend all their time coming up with faster ways to pirate DVDs and more anonymous places to hide child pornography. Why doesn’t anyone in the “hacker” community care about really accomplishing something great with their skills? Why haven’t there been any notable projects aimed at improving human freedom in a larger sense, rather than subverting inconsequential copyright laws or making it easier to download material that’s illegal for good reason?
The greater personal risk, increased difficulty, lower personal payoff, and rather the subjective nature of what comprises ‘something great’ maybe?
Umm, they have done lots of good.
Programmers wrote the software you are using to complain.
Hackers are often the most knowledgeable about security issues and have been the driving force behind new kinds of security.
Programs like ‘Genome at home’ will have contributed to innumerable advances in medical technology.
The reason people haven’t done what you seek for them to do is because declaring war on the United States government has some health risks.
It’s too bad your rant wasn’t in the Pit where it belongs, because there is nothing to debate here.
Hackers using their skills to pirate DVDs is one thing. Using them to interfere with police business represents a much higher level of risk. The police really, really have a problem with people who interfere with police business.
One tried to do some good in 1986. Anybody remember Captain Midnight ?
Because being able to buy a case of Sudafed isn’t really a big win for “human freedom”, it’s only a big win for meth dealers.
Not to mention BrainGlutton’s excellent point about there being a slight difference between screwing with the RIAA and screwing with the Police.
Not to mention, most of the “black-hats” are in it for the money anyway.
Some targets are just easier than others and enable you to rest easier at night as opposed to being woken up by flash-bang grenades.
As someone already mentioned, hackers and programmers already have and continue to do things that are truly important, that cell phone in your pocket is truly something to behold.
It’s a ridiculous system, why not let it be ridiculous? What good is disabling it for a little bit and letting the police send more taxpayer money to the software firm?
The program is not at fault, nor the programmers who made it, nor the hackers who never thought to attempt to temporarily disable the software. The legislation that allows this is at fault, and the legislators who created it.
Real life hacks don’t work like the movies - all you have to do is shut down the system and reinstall the software, or reload the most recent backup files. Then call the software company and pay them to beef up security. As soon as there’s some indication that there’s something wrong, it’s easily remedied.
If the system is remote, there’s not a lot you can do, unless your hack is not easily detectable. If the system is yours, like a DVD or retail software, you can hack it to bits and no one is the wiser, even if you suck at hacking.
What is the hack going to do, anyway? The best idea I can think of is to send false information to the police, anonymizing the buyers, which sounds like obstruction of justice.
I’m too busy working on a video game, I can’t be bothered.
Why is it that people like you always want someone else to do something? *You *put *your *time in to learn these skills, *you *take the risks associated with the actions you are calling for and then maybe - and only maybe - you will have a right to be outraged.
Hackers have broken into quite a few government systems, risk or no. Very often for a hacker the risk is the reward. I remember the FBI Most Wanted website being hacked awhile back. My guess answer to the OP is there are very few truly talented hackers and the rest are 2600 reading wannabes. Hacking an X-box or Windows 98 is a breeze, government firewalls, not so much. Hacker’s also do if for curiosity sake and government files are probably pretty dry.
To answer the original OP its because they cant get girl friends .
You don’t remember the Clipper chip? The government wanted to put the Clipper in all new computers. It would encrypt all e-mail. The Government would have the key and be able to read anybody’s e-mail. Most people were unhappy about this. Then, a group of hackers broke the chip’s code and published the encryption key on the net. As a result, no Clippers were ever installed.
You’re saying that getting info on potential meth manufacturers is not a good thing?
I hate to break it to you, Wee Bairn, but you are a potential meth dealer as well. Gathering information on meth dealers is one thing. Gathering information on the population at large because they have the potential to commit crimes is another, and it leaves many civil libertarians feeling more than a little icky.
I agree, the man knowing that I bought one of these products is a bit odd, but the only alternative is to sit around and wait for a meth lab to blow up before the cops find out about it. If my cold medicine purchases must be monitored to control the manufacturing of meth, then I’m all for it. I agree the reporting should be limited to large quantities, or multiple purchases in a short period.
Yeah, because exploding meth labs are an epidemic. :rolleyes:
OHMIGAWD HE BLEW UP A TRAILER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ARIZONA DESERT! SOMEONE MUST PUT A STOP THIS, HERE, HERE HAVE EVERY DETAIL OF MY PURCHASING HISTORY! I’LL MAKE SURE TO LOJACK MY CAR SO YOU CAN ALWAYS FIND ME! PROTECT ME DADDY GOVERNMENT! THERE ARE BAD MEN OUT THERE I SAW IT IN THE MEDIA!
Sure, there have been a lot of examples. Tor and Freenet both allow political dissidents to publish their views anonymously. PGP has brought secure encryption to those seeking privacy. The Creative Commons has provided a scheme to let people release their works with less restrictive rights. The Linux project has provided corporations and citizens a way to leverage industrial grade unix without the cost.