A few thoughts about the hack of Sony Pictures' emails. Current opinion is that North Korea did it to retaliate for the new James Franco/Seth Rogan movie, The Interview (which is about two journalists hired to kill the North Korean leader. It's a comedy. Even with James Franco and Seth Rogan. I kid, I kid!)
First thought - this is how freedom of speech will die. There is no more private speech. Forget the NSA, your personal, national and criminal enemies will wage cyber-war on your computer and broadcast your innermost thoughts. Which means, we will become a savagely self-censoring people, stuttering like hyper-caffeinated Woody Allens as we try to wiggle through explaining our emails, our web history and our IM traffic.
Second thought. You know how they cut away to a commercial when there is a fight during an NHL or NFL game? You know how we don't say the name of rape victims? The media should take a similar stance to victims of hacking and make it a rule to not broadcast anything from a hacked account. While this does nothing for you or me, by depriving celebrity hackers of their 15 minutes, perhaps the luster will wear off the act.
Third thought. Self-defense is rapidly becoming a cyber enterprise, not a physical one. Just as we expect police to patrol the streets, we expect our emails, etc. to be safe. The problem is that hackers are much farther ahead of the curve than law enforcement. Which leads me to my...
Fourth thought. The best defense is a good offense. Incidents like this confirm why I believe in a robust, pro-active cyber, intelligence and anti-terror campaign. We will have enough cyber crimes and hacking done by Americans against Americans (or is it FUBU?). The least we can do is take hostile nation states out of the game, no?
Bottom line? I think free speech is being eroded as people fear the consequences of saying anything deviating from the status quo or polite society. When you consider the hair-trigger culture of offendedness we nuture and sustain in mass media, most of us, revealed, will spend much of our lives apologizing to people we have "offended." In other words, every one of us is going to become a politician, choosing either the most vanilla words we can find or whole-heartedly joining popular opinion so as not to be the lone outlier, struggling to justify some supposed latent racist/sexist/homophobic/fascist tendency.
And on that note, I'd like to apologize to you for bringing up this little dollop of pessimism on a Friday night (and at Christmastime, no less), except I think the North Koreans are the real bad guy here.