One of my favorite movies is The Hunt for Red October. The book, early Tom Clancy, was written when the Cold War was not history, and the movie stays fairly true to its premise.
In the story, the Red October is led by a submarine commander, Ramius, who is planning to defect. He leaves behind a letter that reveals his plan, and the Red October is then chased across the Atlantic by a fleet of Soviet ships.
A U.S. sub commander, watching the pursuit, says:
And there’s something else strange. They’re not listening to their sonar. At 30 knots, they could run over my daughter’s stereo and not hear it. They’re not trying to find Ramius. They’re trying to drive him.
Lately, I’ve written a bit about trying openness and interoperability as an option to fight piracy. Out of that post came a clearer articulation of what bothers me about making enforcement the go-to strategy here: it keeps us from listening.
This is not an argument against all enforcement. As I’ve written before, our research was structured on the premise that piracy could hinder or help sales, and we wanted to test for those outcomes.
But it’s hard to listen when you’re looking to remove first, ask questions later. At best, that approach gives the enforcer a false sense of security. At worst, it hurts paid sales. Neither seems like the right choice.