I don’t know which I am disgusted with more about this digital hack attack on Sony from N. Korea (allegedly):
1: That a country is so vain about a drop in the bucket comedy movie that would have come and gone with little fanfare,
2: The idea that the United States just experienced a digital terrorist attack AND lost,
3: That a bullying aggressor is caught then threatens “to retaliate in all war spaces”
4: That IT is so much more than a necessary evil cost,
5: Or that Hollywood was exposed building a conspiracy to circumvent the U.S. legal system and spite the American public to help increase their bottom line.
While the world watched the Sony hackers release piece after piece of Sony Proprietary data, the world was made privy to the inner workings from inside a big Hollywood studio. It was very fascinating and sad all at once, since we can assume these practices and mindsets could conceivably represent the industry itself.
The data dumps released by the hackers seemed motivated by a stupid comedy movie that would have come and gone and been one of 100+ comedies released in 2014. But now they’ve made it quite the famous movie in recent, if not all-time history.
Yet instead of letting the fictional piece of work come and go, N. Korea forced on the world the censorship they force on their own citizens. (Allegedly!)
The fallout from this stupid hack has either only just begun or will settle out in the coming days. It is hard to say what with new developments every few days on who is doing what to whom for whom.
(SIDENOTE: In Matthew Mather’s excellent book, CyberStorm, a terrorist attack on the U.S. starts out with some of the simplest internet hacks on a few major companies that are the cornerstone of society that starts the downfall of society. Cripple UPS and the electrical grid and telecommunications, and you’ve throttled a country in a few quick keystrokes. It’s a great read, but unnerving to see it in action.)
As the data dumps commenced many said this was a crime and we should stop promulgating the content. Many were saying by posting all the data dumps the terrorists were releasing was helping them do their task.
But then we learned through the data dumps about a new group of folk, a seemingly big conspiracy that was quietly developing and looking to attack Google and the consumers of movies. And to some degree, I was surprised and agitated all at once. And yet, when mega companies make billions and want billions more, maybe I wasn’t that surprised.
But we have to take a step back in time to talk about the horrible idea of what was called SOPA.
SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act)
Back in 2011 a bunch of studios tried to get the SOPA act passed, but there were so many strings attached to the plan that it would have been a very prohibitive act of control over the standard internet user. The censorship resulting from the act was so frightening that 115,000 major websites, including Google, got 10 million petition signatures and got Congress 8 million phone calls and 4 million emails in argument against the act.
It never passed. And the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America ) supported act was crushed from existence.
But during the Sony Hack Data Dumps Google got wind of a secret initiative (ALLEGEDLY of course) that the MPAA, Universal, Sony, Fox, Paramount, Disney, and Warner Bros were plotting a secret plan to revive the failed SOPA legislation.
They ALLEGEDLY were going to get a state attorneys General to swarm Google with bad press and court actions. The studios were raising $500k to $1.2M to fund this process while the MPAA did the legal research for the attack. Yes, the MPAA, who supposedly was brought about to help promote and defend the First Amendment of artists’ rights to free expression.
The Google blog post can be found here, at “The MPAA’s Attempt to Revive SOPA Through A State Attorney General.” Of course like all bullies that are exposed for their actions, The MPAA shot back at Google and said that
“Google’s effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful”
And then they take a wild swing (and a miss?) at Google by adding about Google Search being complicit in
“…including illicit drug purchases, human trafficking and fraudulent documents as well as theft of intellectual property. We will seek the assistance of any and all government agencies, whether federal, state or local, to protect the rights of all involved in creative activities.”
Seriously? That’s their distraction?
Now it’s true that Google is not an innocent entity in the world of internet. They’re a massive business that has fine-tuned its business model around searching the internet while making billions from advertisers. All while expertly keeping track of you, your locations, your habits and travels.
But that’s the world we live in. Google led the charge, Facebook and thousands of other sites are merely following suit.
What gets me is how the collective of Hollywood, (the MPAA, Universal, Sony, Fox, Paramount, Disney, and Warner Bros) was (ALLEGEDLY) looking to create a secret end-around to get the SOPA act back into play while in the process, lock you down and out from the internet, yet again.
What was bad about SOPA?
The claims were that SOPA would enable law enforcement to block entire Internet domains if any infringing content was posted on a single blog or webpage under that domain and that the act was going to allow the ability to bypass the “safe harbor” protections from liability presently afforded to websites by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and that it was going to also require search engines to delete domain names and thus violate the First Amendment and could begin a worldwide arms race of unprecedented Internet censorship.
You can read Wikipedia’s entry on the SOPA Act.
I’m incensed at this potential development.
“Hollywood” is the place that fictional entertainment comes from, and from that, the great movies that capture our imaginations, and it is a trusted entity that we give our billions of hard earned dollars to each year. And to hear that they were trying to circumvent the legal system that “the people” used to swat down their proposed act, sickens me. It sickens me in how the process explained in the Deadline and Google pieces describe, was being developed. And they gathered up almost a million dollars to do this.
How do we trust studios like that again? Or does it matter as long as we keep getting our entertainment?
Humanity is a lazy creature. When entities make huge “mistakes,” they are almost always “forgiven.” Or at least, no one dwells on it and it is actually more about being forgotten than forgiven. Look at Michael Vick, who was arrested for supporting dog fighting rings, and was allegedly involved in tossing bait dogs to the fighting dogs and torturing loser dogs to death by electrocuting them in his pool while he bankrolled factions of the business. But today, it’s “Go Vick!,” as if he never did it or the mentality that created that situation is suddenly erased because he apologized.
This Sony hack turned into a cyber attack that will take its place in history. And while they were attacking Sony, Sony’s peers caved and stayed silent, out of fear of having them turn their attentions on them.
Newt Gingrich said it best on Twitter,
“No one should kid themselves. With the #Sony collapse America has lost its first cyberwar. This is a very, very dangerous precedent.”
And it has so many implications.
Yet, despite the nefarious attitudes of the studios about SOPA, which is based on a valid premise of fighting movie piracy, we saw one more thing in this entire act. One more thing that quietly demonstrated a corporate attitude that I’ve known about since my IT days some years back.
That attitude is that IT is a necessary evil. It costs money for intangible results* that no one can see. Until something like the Sony hack brings it to light. IT is the critical backbone of corporate America, whether the corporations like to spend the money on it or not. It’s the prudent thing to do.
*When I got my first IT job, the first thing I had noticed how IT only responded to issues rather than get ahead of them. After a little over a year, I had anticipated so many issues and problems with my work group that they started questioning what I was doing.
So we’ll see how this goes. Digital terrorists won this day with Sony and the American movie consumer. But this could very well be a tiny first step in a horrible direction. If you dwell on it, they didn’t just break in and steal things. They got in the Sony digital infrastructure and spent time having a field day plundering all there was to take before dropping their bombshells.
A properly funded IT attitude might have prevented this. Then again, we would not be learning about the inner workings of Sony, and I presume, other Hollywood studios also.
I wonder what our history books will say about this when all is said and done? But it is still developing, so we’ll see how it pans out.