Making criminals

An interesting quote for a Friday afternoon, from Ayn Rand’s 1957 Atlas Shrugged:

“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws…
Just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted–and you create a nation of law-breakers…”

This could quite easily be applied to the more absurd provisions of today’s DMCA, EUCD and other anti-tinkering legislation. The difference is, we now do have technology that allows observation and enforcement. The architectures of control are embedded in the systems around us, and the ‘objective’ interpretation is more often than not merely the line that preserves an existing big business model as safely as possible.