As a security professional I admit that I normally assume someone I’m dealing with isn’t necessarily honest; especially if they’ve done something to draw my attention. I learned early on that most humans have an unbelievable capacity for deceit, and they use it on a daily basis. In many cases the individual is so believable because they’ve convinced themselves that what they’re doing/saying is either the truth (when it’s clearly not), or they’re justified for some bullshit reason (like “the man” has been keeping them down). No- you really don’t deserve to steal my bike out of the garage because I make more money than you (despite coming from a bankrupt family as a kid) or because I was dumb enough to leave the door open. (Yep, even us pros screw up sometimes and pay the price).

I’ve also discussed, usually in the context of security screening, how, in certain cases, it’s better to assume everyone is a threat and apply strict controls across the board. It’s not the right approach in every case, but there are times when it’s definitely appropriate.

Now Microsoft and Universal are taking the same approach and assuming we’re all a bunch of pirating criminals. In a simply astounding move, MS will pay Universal for every Zune sold. Anyone stupid enough to buy a Zune will pay a $1 tax because, and I quote:

Universal said it was only fair to receive payment on devices that may be repositories for stolen music. … “It’s a major change for the industry,” said David Geffen, the entertainment mogul who more than a decade ago sold the record label that bears his name to Universal. “Each of these devices is used to store unpaid-for material. This way, on top of the material people do pay for, the record companies are getting paid on the devices storing the copied music.”

But wait, are we, the lowly consumers, the real criminals? This next statement sounds like the old Mafia bosses roaming the streets of Jersey City where I was a medic:

When the companies initially licensed Apple”s fledgling iTunes service, “they didn”t figure he”d make tens of billions of dollars from the iPod,” said Mr. Gordon, author of the book “The Future of the Music Business.” “This time they”re saying, “Well, we want a piece.” “

Ah. Now I understand. It’s a protection racket.

That’s like the auto manufacturers paying the gas companies a few extra bucks for every car sold on the off chance you’ll steal some gas from the pump someday. Or computer manufacturers paying every single software company in the world a tax on the off chance we’ll copy their software.

How does it feel to be a criminal?

Never mind- we all know who the real crooks are.

(Truth is this might just be MS screwing with Apple since the music companies now want a piece of the iPod- which hurts Apple a lot more than a $1 on something no one will buy anyway).