At some point, the pundits fighting ideas like sender identification and digital rights management are going to wake up on the outside of the web mainstream looking in. Keep a list of the people who tell you that this is all a bad dream and YAGNI. It's a bad dream, yes, but you sure do need it if you plan to conduct business on the web.
The frictionless 'we are an independent nation' days of Internet engineering are over. Time to grow up and get used to the idea that items in transit, virtual or otherwise, are secured and so are the railways, highways, and information highways they run on.
The wild west was tamed when the man of law was backed up by the man of action. The WWW is no different but for too long it has been men of action ('just the right people') and people who 'talk too much and think too much' but don't have the stomach for the law and law enforcement. New business models will emerge, the cost of an MP3 will find a stable zone, and yes, the RIAA and others will continue to track and prosecute theft.
A lot of the pioneers of the Internet and the World Wide Web are supporters of open systems the way the cattle ranchers were supporters of open ranges. Freedom meant 'don't get in my way' but left little to the imagination of who would have free range and who would have rights. We may wish it were otherwise, but the surges in identity theft, theft of property, spamming and phishing make it important to find those who can combine law and action. If that means Microsoft steps up to the plate and '"git's it dun'", then they win marketshare. If the open sourcers and the free range supporters want to fight that, fine. Linux can die and take the open source movement with it. That's not a good thing, not a desirable outcome, but those who want a free range ecology have to understand the market is never sympathetic to "Sounds Good Maybe Later" when the foxes are taking eggs and the weasels are eating them.
Then there is the URL I received in the mail today. In the 'information space' of 'information resources', this one is a real hummer. It provides the names, photos and locations of agency employees and informants. It provides scans of sensitive documentation from public safety agencies. It proudly proclaims, 'If you have databases on us, we have databases on you.'
It is the most profoundly stupid website I've had to look at to date.
1) If those are real people in those photos and this is not a hoax, the site owner is signing death warrants.
2) Just as the lack of means to classify content by type got us PICS, this will get an even more invasive clampdown.
3) What happens if someone in a snit posts a picture of their freshly ex-domestic partner to that site?
So tell me, web pioneers, pundits of the let a thousand flowers bloom school, what should we do with this garden of poisoned poppies? Should the police agencies who do have some pretty powerful servers get Distributed Denial of Service Attack software and simply blow that site off the air? I can't say I would be bothered by that. It seems to be the tactic of choice when others get snarfled out there. Should they send sharply worded memos or their lawyers? Or should they log any traffic to that site? Can't be done? Couldn't catch the P2P thieves either, right? If you build it, they will listen, and they will react. Why? That is what you pay them to do and they are pretty good at it. Because of sites like this, it will be harder for undercover police to work, harder to turn informants, harder to make cases. Result: drug use in your neighborhood will go up, crime will go up, violence will go up. What will come down? The cost of your web service and your quality of life.
Quite an achievement...
Smart security sustains freedom. Otherwise, "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." To those who still want the web as it was in 1993, in the words of the Duke, "You talk too much. You think too much. Besides, you didn't kill Liberty...", you weaseled your way out of it, one stupid idea at a time.