Sony’s Reverence

Sony decided to withdraw its film “The Interview” after hackers threatened to attack movie theaters if the film was shown.

It’s like Pearl Harbor for freedom of expression, says American lawyer Alan Dershowitz, and the humiliation is worse, we could add, because the fatal blow was self-inflicted.

Sony fell on its sword by refusing to release the comedy “The Interview,” in which the CIA recruits a TV presenter to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The reason was that the group “Guardians of Peace” threatened to attack movie theaters that showed the film. Pyongyang is suspected to be behind these “hackers.” They recently led a complex cyberattack against the company. Thousands of Social Security numbers and medical files were disclosed, as well as some celebrity gossip and films not yet showing.

Sony’s decision is cowardly and dangerous. The problem is very complex, but the solution is not. Errol Mendes, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, believes that Sony could have protected itself legally. It only had to warn the spectators at the box office of the risk of an attack – incidentally very theoretical, according to the FBI. Or it could have facilitated the release of the film on the Internet.

Censorship won. If the editor Viking had copied Sony, Salman Rushdie would never have published his book “The Satanic Verses,” which earned him a death threat from those crazy about Allah. Sony proves that these threats work. Fox, which abandoned its cinematic adaptation of Quebecois Guy Delisle’s comic strip “Pyongyang,” had already copied it. Fanatics and despots are surely taking note.

Yet, we must first find fear in Kim Jong Un’s camp. If he fears the satire so much, it’s because protests are increasing close to home. With fading culture, borders become more open – not to forget the air balloons sent by South Korea, responsible for subversive material, such as satirical films …


However, the problem is not limited to freedom of expression or North Korea. It also has to do with a serious precedent for national security.

We already knew about commercial cyberattacks to steal company secrets, like those of JP Morgan. There are also those that are political, to steal secrets of state or sabotage programs, such as the virus launched against the Iranian nuclear program. All of this is done in secret.

We are witnessing a new form of cyberattack. It is public, and it uses blackmail. It’s the start of a new form of war, and the United States has lost the first battle.

President Obama promises a “proportional response.” The United States did not choose to be attacked, and it will not have the choice to defend itself. This will begin by better protecting the servers of companies. A legal bill regarding this must be adopted soon.

This war will not be won through Sony’s method – that of reverence.

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