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Blown to Bits

Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion

Hal Abelson Ken Ledeen Harry Lewis

Upper Saddle River, NJ ? Boston ? Indianapolis ? San Francisco New York ? Toronto ? Montreal ? London ? Munich ? Paris ? Madrid

Cape Town ? Sydney ? Tokyo ? Singapore ? Mexico City

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Many of the designations used by manufacturers and sellers to distinguish their products are claimed as trademarks. Where those designations appear in this book, and the publisher was aware of a trademark claim, the designations have been printed with initial capital letters or in all capitals. The authors and publisher have taken care in the preparation of this book, but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for incidental or consequential damages in connection with or arising out of the use of the information or programs contained herein. The publisher offers excellent discounts on this book when ordered in quantity for bulk purchases or special sales, which may include electronic versions and/or custom covers and content particular to your business, training goals, marketing focus, and branding interests. For more information, please contact:

U.S. Corporate and Government Sales (800) 382-3419 corpsales@ For sales outside the United States, please contact: International Sales international@ Visit us on the Web: aw Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data: Abelson, Harold. Blown to bits : your life, liberty, and happiness after the digital explosion / Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen, Harry Lewis.

p. cm. ISBN 0-13-713559-9 (hardback : alk. paper) 1. Computers and civilization. 2. Information technology--Technological innovations. 3. Digital media. I. Ledeen, Ken, 1946- II. Lewis, Harry R. III. Title. QA76.9.C66A245 2008 303.48'33--dc22

2008005910 Copyright ? 2008 Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen, and Harry Lewis All rights reserved. An electronic version of this book will be released under a Creative Commons license. For detailed information about availability for the Creative Commons version, consult the book web site at . For information regarding permissions, write to:

Pearson Education, Inc. Rights and Contracts Department 501 Boylston Street, Suite 900 Boston, MA 02116 Fax (617) 671 3447

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Contents

Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii

Chapter 1 Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Digital Explosion Why Is It Happening, and What Is at Stake? . . . . . . . . . 1

The Explosion of Bits, and Everything Else . . . . . . . . . . 2 The Koans of Bits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Good and Ill, Promise and Peril . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

Naked in the Sunlight Privacy Lost, Privacy Abandoned . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

1984 Is Here, and We Like It . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Footprints and Fingerprints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Why We Lost Our Privacy, or Gave It Away . . . . . . . . . 36 Little Brother Is Watching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Big Brother, Abroad and in the U.S. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Technology Change and Lifestyle Change . . . . . . . . . . 55 Beyond Privacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

Ghosts in the Machine Secrets and Surprises of Electronic Documents . . . . . . 73

What You See Is Not What the Computer Knows . . . . 73 Representation, Reality, and Illusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Hiding Information in Images . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 The Scary Secrets of Old Disks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99

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X BLOWN TO BITS

Chapter 4

Needles in the Haystack Google and Other Brokers in the Bits Bazaar . . . . . . . 109

Found After Seventy Years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109 The Library and the Bazaar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 The Fall of Hierarchy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117 It Matters How It Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120 Who Pays, and for What? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138 Search Is Power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 You Searched for WHAT? Tracking Searches . . . . . . . 156 Regulating or Replacing the Brokers . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158

Chapter 5

Secret Bits How Codes Became Unbreakable . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161

Encryption in the Hands of Terrorists, and

Everyone Else . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161 Historical Cryptography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165 Lessons for the Internet Age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174 Secrecy Changes Forever . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178 Cryptography for Everyone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187 Cryptography Unsettled . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191

Chapter 6

Balance Toppled Who Owns the Bits? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195

Automated Crimes--Automated Justice . . . . . . . . . . . 195 NET Act Makes Sharing a Crime . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199 The Peer-to-Peer Upheaval . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201 Sharing Goes Decentralized . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204 Authorized Use Only . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209 Forbidden Technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213 Copyright Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance . . . . . . 219 The Limits of Property . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225

Chapter 7

You Can't Say That on the Internet Guarding the Frontiers of Digital Expression . . . . . . . 229

Do You Know Where Your Child Is on the

Web Tonight? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229

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C O N T E N T S XI

Metaphors for Something Unlike Anything Else . . . . 231 Publisher or Distributor? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 234 Neither Liberty nor Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235 The Nastiest Place on Earth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237 The Most Participatory Form of Mass Speech . . . . . . 239 Protecting Good Samaritans--and a Few Bad Ones . . 242 Laws of Unintended Consequences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245 Can the Internet Be Like a Magazine Store? . . . . . . . 247 Let Your Fingers Do the Stalking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249 Like an Annoying Telephone Call? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251

Digital Protection, Digital Censorship--and Self-

Censorship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253

Chapter 8

Bits in the Air Old Metaphors, New Technologies, and Free Speech . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 259

Censoring the President . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 259 How Broadcasting Became Regulated . . . . . . . . . . . . 260 The Path to Spectrum Deregulation . . . . . . . . . . . . . 273 What Does the Future Hold for Radio? . . . . . . . . . . . 288

Conclusion After the Explosion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 295

Bits Lighting Up the World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 295 A Few Bits in Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 299

Appendix The Internet as System and Spirit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 301

The Internet as a Communication System . . . . . . . . . 301 The Internet Spirit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 309

Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 317

Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 347

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CHAPTER 6

Balance Toppled

Who Owns the Bits?

Automated Crimes--Automated Justice

Tanya Andersen was home having dinner with her eight-year-old daughter in December 2005 when they were interrupted by a knock at the door. It was a legal process server, armed with a lawsuit from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a trade organization representing half a dozen music publishers that together control over 90% of music distribution in the U.S. The RIAA claimed that the Oregon single mother surviving on disability payments owed them close to a million dollars for illegally downloading 1,200 tracks of gangsta rap and other copyrighted music.

Andersen's run-in with the RIAA had begun nine months previously with a "demand letter" from a Los Angeles law firm. The letter stated that "a number of record companies" had sued her for copyright infringement and that she could settle for $4,000?$5,000 or face the consequences. She suspected the letter was a scam, and protested to the RIAA that she had never downloaded any music. Andersen repeatedly offered to let the record companies verify this for themselves by inspecting her computer's hard drive, but the RIAA refused the offers. At one point, an RIAA representative admitted to her that he believed she was probably innocent. But, he warned, once the RIAA starts a lawsuit, they don't drop it, because doing so would encourage other people to defend themselves against the recording industry's claims.

Andersen found a lawyer after the December lawsuit was served, and they convinced a judge to order an inspection of the hard drive. The RIAA's own expert determined that Andersen's computer had never been used for illegal

195

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