Connecting the dots

14th September 2008 – 1.18 pm

What's the connection between being refused petrol unless I take my helmet off and not buying the computer game Spore? In both cases I am inconvenienced, the former because of the insignificant threat of robbery or theft and the latter because of a perceived threat of piracy affecting sales. But that isn't the connection I am seeing. The connection is that I am treated as being guilty until I prove my innocence.

I have to prove that I am not about to rob the petrol station by being willing to take off my helmet so that I can be recognised should I cause trouble. The DRM on the computer game is in place to 'keep me honest' so that I don't make and distribute illegal copies, regardless of my intentions. Note that neither restriction is in place because I've shown myself to be untrustworthy or have engaged in illegal activities in the past but only on the suspicion that it is possible for me to do so.

It is no wonder this treatment gets me angry. I am being punished unfairly, entirely at odds with the basis of the legal system of the land. I can see why it is being done: it is much easier to apply a blanket restriction that affects everyone in an effort to prevent wrongdoings than it is to assume innocence and pursue the individual transgressions when they occur. That it is easier doesn't make it right.

I'm not sure what can be done about these abusive practices apart from remaining aware of when they occur and highlighting when it does. I refuse to be treated as a criminal.

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