Information Will Get Free

Responding to “How Silicon Valley is Threatening Our Humanity”

There’s this notion that the phrase “information wants to be free” is kind of a radical opinion that there should be no privacy.

I’ve certainly heard it that way from a lot of people — it’s a natural justification of piracy that as soon as something is made digital I have a right to make a copy. I see it used like a prescriptivist tenet of the new digital world: if you make something digital, you’re making it available to the world.

But I don’t see it as a moral stance, that information SHOULD be free, but as a proclamation of inevitability. If you represent information as patterns of zeros and ones, and ESPECIALLY if that pattern is sitting on a machine with a network connection, it is a matter of time or targeting that that information will be duplicated and distributed, because there is virtually zero cost to making copies, and no such thing as perfect security.