Jun 092013

plasterThere’s been a few articles recently that have caused me some consternation. They are all, in my humble opinion, basically linked in their root cause. (I’m big on root cause analysis, not enough of it done by my IT colleagues in an industry eager to simply rectify the immediate issue and simply lay blame, rather than learn from it’s mistakes – anyway I digress)

So the three core news matters I am talking about are 1) The call to internet industry to regulate porn especially the wholly unacceptable child porn industry, 2)  the building story of how (allegedly)  the US Government is watching everything we do on the internet and telling our “Dad”, or GCHQ as it is known and finally 3) the lesser story around the call from police to have SmartPhones updated with a “kill switch” rendering them inoperable in any country and thus making them less desirable as the theft item of choice

Now apart from tech you may be wondering what my thinking around how they are linked is all about.

However first a quick examination of the usual approach being taken, albeit fuelled by the media, on these stories.

Taking each in turn and dealing with the worse of these matters is the raising concern that access to child porn has led to some horrific news stories of late. So don’t get me wrong, given the simple option I would press the magic button that would eradicate the content and access for this insidious industry. However what we see in the media is a call to the Internet Service Providers and specifically the search engines to block this content. This is a sticky plaster approach and whilst on the face of it, it would “solve” the problem, do you really think this would stop the content being available or distributed merely because Google didn’t return an easily clickable link. We delude ourselves if we truly think that.

The likes of Google are easy media targets, being toted as the big evil empires that are spreading this content. This is just not the case, and we all know it. Also you need to understand the immense complexity of sifting this content from the acceptable content, which would be a moving target as the actual perpetrators would constantly shift and morph their cyber appearance.

So to the root cause, which is a not a technology answer, but a recognition that morals and acceptable behaviour have become eroded in modern life and we choose (yes we are to blame) to ignore what is in plain sight, in that we have allowed this underworld culture to develop and thrive and we need to take control back again. Yes by all means use technology in an effort to monitor (and more of that for point 2) and protect, but we have to accept responsibility in the way we bring up our children and develop them into society. As with any complex problem resolution, it will take time to rectify and there are no “quick fixes” even if the politicians want them as their next campaign vehicle.

I haven’t got the panacea for this and wouldn’t dare purport to knowing as such, I just know that I’ve had enough of “sticky plasters”.

So to point 2 and to big brother watching you. I’ve got a simple edict I live by – “If I never do anything I am ashamed of or that is  illegal why would I be bothered if anyone knows what I am doing, where I am driving and who I “liked” on Facebook or “followed” on Twitter.

Now I know for a lot of people this will be the red rag to the bull, but to be honest, I don’t care, as if this gets someone inflamed I start getting suspicious. Also if you do insist on  being a naughty boy or girl, then don’t Tweet it, don’t Facebook it, don’t film it and “whoops” upload it to YouTube. They’re called social media for a reason.

OK, so now I’ll get the rants about privacy invasion on email or chat, and this is where it gets tricky. So whilst in an ideal world the right authorities would have access to all data in the course of investigations, we do of course have the issue of corrupt use of this data. However while those debates run, the real criminals are getting away with it.

So again I come back to root cause, and the fact that nefarious deeds and the perpetrators of such will utilise any technical means at their disposal, so we need to look to long term solutions to the actual reasons why people are driven to crime and we need to look to again our society and our acceptance of slipping morals and an increasing laziness on our part to accept responsibility for our own actions and for the actions of those that we are accountable for. So again no quick “sticky plaster” fixes, but hard graft in long term fixes.

The last story caught my eye this weekend, and was kind of the straw on the camels back. The police are calling for tech to be added to phones to allow them to be permanently disabled remotely.  (Click for Full Story). This is not a new idea, as I was designing software to do exactly the same into a new generation of digital mobiles in the late eighties. The idea is fraught with issues, the biggest being you just know some numpty sat in his/her bedroom hacking away will come up with a virus to activate the kill switch. The tech will push up the price of the phones and finally it will further fuel the big brother debate I have already spoken about.

So quickly to the root cause, as I have vented quite sufficiently on this blog today, and to the fact that once again it’s the acceptability of petty crimes in society that allow people to believe they have a right to steal as it is a “victimless crime”. There is no such thing, especially looking at the costs of smartphones whether up front or embedded in rentals, the increasing popularity of dedicated mobile phone insurance. (Check your home policies folks if you think your away from home house insurance covers your mobile these days) and the loss of business individuals have when they lose the mass of data on these devices – (Backup, Backup, Backup guys, no excuse these days).

So I am back to my original rant on declining morals and lack of accountability that has eroded our society. It is all to easy to sit back in moral judgement over technology and the big evil corporates who run it, but we all need to start looking a little closer to home now and then.

I’ll get back in my “technology” box now and return to blogging on pure tech now.


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