[Foundation-l] 09-f9-...

Ed Sanders ejsanders at gmail.com
Mon May 7 17:47:18 UTC 2007

Todd Allen wrote:
> On 5/7/07, Ed Sanders <ejsanders at gmail.com> wrote:
>> What about a 20k hex number that represents a child porn JPEG?
>> Publishing that number would be highly illegal. "Complete nonsense"
>> indeed...
>> Ed.
>> Yann Forget wrote:
>>> Illegal number? Do you have any legal argument? There is none on this
>>> page. At least quite a lot of people have understood that the rethoric
>>> from the majors is completely baseless.
>>> Publishing a number is spamming? Publising a number would be illegal?
>>> This is a complete nonsense.
>>> Wake up guys!
>>> Yann
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> It depends. If you were publishing the image, formatted and set up as
> an image file, that would be illegal. If, instead, you were simply
> publishing a text file containing the numeric value making up that
> image, why should it be?
Don't be ridiculous. Of course it would be illegal, and anyone found 
with such a file on their computer would certainly be put in jail, 
regardless of whether you changed the file extension, the encoding, or 
even tried to encrypt it.

> That's exactly why this whole thing is pretty slippery. Computers
> transmit and manipulate vast quantities of numerical values. There's
> no way to remove that capability from a computer and still have it
> work. Any given numeric value could represent any number of things,
> just as in the real world. What is "100"? My age? The number of
> pennies it takes to make up one dollar? The third octet of my IP in
> decimal form? The ASCII code for the letter "d"?

Making the comparison is "100" is very naive. 100 is a very small 
number, and one you could chance upon in a number of circumstances. The 
probability of accidentally or coincidentally reproducing a 32 hex digit 
number is completely negligible, even over a dataset as large as the 
internet. There are about as many 32 byte  strings (64 hex digits) as 
there are atoms in the universe.

> The answer to all of the above could certainly be "yes". Numeric
> values are -just numbers-. A credit card number, in and of itself, is
Again a credit card number is long enough that it couldn't be "just a 
number". I don't think anyone arrested for stealing credit card 
databases has gotten off by claiming the were just collecting 
interesting numbers.

> just a number. Misusing that number, by for example making an
> unauthorized purchase on the card, is an action, and is and should be
> illegal. Knowing something is not a crime. Acting on it might be.

But distributing the numbers is also a crime, regardless of whether you 
used them or not.

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