Saturday, January 5, 2008

Trying to stop the bots is stupid

Jim Russell, in commenting on my last post on Screen scraping and DRM pointed me to his Russell's Law:

Russell's Law (which I made up, but has been holding up very well so far) states: You cannot encrypt past the intended recipient. It was originally coined to convey the impossibility of enforcing "for-your-eyes-only" emails via cryptography, but it applies to many situations. Like the impossibility of foolproof DRM-protected music. Now, here's another situation where it applies perfectly. You can't stop your Facebook friends from giving your email address to whomever they choose. You can make it temporarily tedious, but that's it.

Back in the old days when talking about email privacy the standard answer was, "Just assume that everything will be forwarded." The same rules apply today. If you put something in Facebook (or anywhere else for that matter) you should assume that it won't stay there. It doesn't matter if Facebook is a walled-garden or not.

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