Friday, December 19, 2014

The Problem with Blackmail - Thought of the Day

This Sony hack and media frenzy around the un-release of The Interview this Christmas Day has got me thinking.

The hackers have now sent Sony a new message thanking them for cancelling the release of their movie "The Interview" and saying that they will keep all of Sony's stolen intellectual property to themselves unless the movie is "leaked, released or distributed".

There are countless occasions when stolen property is held "ransom" unless certain demands are met, and in the movies the thieves always take precautions to ensure that they aren't caught (like no police involvement). However, in instances like this, all Sony (and theatre chains) are doing is kowtowing to ANY future demand these hackers might have.

With this stolen intellectual property, not only will Sony lose money on this film's release, but it will not be able to make any project that these hackers don't agree should be released. Because in cases of blackmail like this, when somebody knows a secret about you, they OWN you.

If Sony really has secret information, they had better think long and hard about whether it is worth losing control over any future endeavours for any executives or employees involved. I always say, it's better to come out ahead of your secrets and be up front, that way the thieves lose all leverage in any situation.

Obviously, this isn't a simple issue, but when it comes to getting blackmailed, the sanest way out is typically doing the best you can to bring criminals to justice, and airing any dirty laundry you might have. If it turns out this is really the doing of the North Korean government, they have made much worse threats than the ones they made this week, and we have never taken them seriously.

If you're going to take a stand, at least stand with the rational among us, or you will forever be beholden to those with your worst interests at heart.