Hackers > Lock-ers

Cory Doctorow repeatedly asserts as a matter of fact that it’s easier to break digital control mechanisms than it is to devise them — so that the value of a company’s investment in researching and implementing a digital control regime falls to zero as soon as an inquisitive hacker (or community thereof) puts some brain-hours into cracking the controls. I don’t know enough about the topic to assert that he’s right, but I know enough (from a murky past in programming and a clearer present involvement in tech conversations) to say that the claim sounds valid to me.

Case in point: yesterday, two distinct groups announced that they’d cracked the iPhone’s lock-in to the AT&T cell network. OK, I’ll grant that Apple presumably gained a significant commercial advantage by being able to tell AT&T that the iPhones would run only on their network; still the amount of intellectual labor that went into first constructing, then cracking the lock seems lamentable.

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