Check out Dave Hoffman’s link to this YouTube of a cell-phone in class. I think the scenario dramatically illustrates the shortcomings of unmediated self-help. Consider the following hypotheticals:
1) an angry urbanite throws bricks through the windows of cars with very senstive alarm systems that go on at night due to the wind.
2) a big company mixes “spoofed” song copies or “rootkits” that take over a user’s computer when they try to download a song and track all keystrokes.
3) a condo dweller enraged by his neighbor’s late night rock music blasts Richard Simmons “Rockin’ to the Oldies” at 5AM each morning.
In each case, there are probably going to be unintended victims of the vigilantism, and who knows if the punishment matches the crime.
The genius of Lior Strahilevitz’s article How’s My Driving is to interpose a third party to collect a record of provocative misbehavior and assure that some impartial forum can mete out punishment eventually. If we’re moving asymptotically toward a world of zero-privacy, such a Karmic Council would be a nice side-benefit.