WS>>Should License Be Required to Go Online?

carl william spitzer iv cwsiv_2nd at JUNO.COM
Wed Nov 5 18:00:34 MST 2003

This facist notion is in perfect alignment with thegreat firewall of
china which Oracle is building.
This would serve to shut down all groups advocating peaceful reform of
government.  It is a threat most of all to gun people but all others need
take heed.  If you want to make a break from the controlled world of MS
join me in Linux.

          Fri Sep 12 2003

          By ANICK JESDANUN, AP Internet Writer

          NEW YORK - A virus fouls your computer and you hapless-
     ly  pass  it on.  Advertising software loads  stealthily  on
     your  machine.  Your password gets stolen  because  of  your
     neglect. Or the music industry sues you because of something
     your kids or grandkids did on your computer.

          Barely a day goes by without someone, somewhere getting
     stung or stinging others through careless Internet use.

          Though many of these threats are preventable, relative-
     ly few of us take the necessary precautions.

          So why not institute mandatory education before  people
     can  go  online? After all, motorists must  obtain  licenses
     before they can legally hit the road, and computers are much
     more complicated.

          "It  could be a four-year college degree,  a  one-month
     course. It might be a good idea," said Bruce Schneier, chief
     technology officer for Counterpane Internet Security Inc.

          Or it might be a bad idea.

          "The  downside is everybody you know won't be  able  to
     have  a computer anymore, and I like being able to  send  e-
     mail to friends," Schneier said.

          Minimum competency requirements could include schooling
     in how to update anti-virus programs, install firewalls  and
     obtain security fixes for your computer's operating system.

          They  could include a primer on copyright law and  tips
     on  configuring file-swapping programs to avoid the  sharing
     that prompted nearly 300 federal lawsuits this week  against
     individual computer users.

          Users  could be taught how to read software  agreements
     carefully,  lest  they find themselves subject  to  unwanted
     pop-up ads.

          They could become smarter about creating passwords  and
     more  cautious about using them at public  terminals,  where
     criminals  have been known to harvest them  with  keystroke-
     logging software.

          Some colleges and universities are already being didac-
     tic about safe computing.

          Students  requesting  computer accounts at  the  Austin
     campus  of the University of Texas must attend  a  45-minute
     workshop  that covers copyright, security, password  protec-
     tion and other issues.

          Dan Updegrove, the school's vice president for informa-
     tion  technology, is considering even more onerous  require-

          "A  car has to pass an inspection, and a driver has  to
     pass a test," he said.  "We need to be moving in the  direc-
     tion that machines are certified in some ways and users  are
     certified in some ways."

          Meanwhile, Oberlin College in Ohio threatens $25  fines
     on students who inadvertently spread a virus.

          Russ Cooper, a security researcher at TruSecure  Corp.,
     proposes extending such penalties to the computing public at
     large for online transgressions.

          Get  enough tickets, and Internet surfers  will  become
     more  responsible  cybercitizens. And parents  slapped  with
     fines  will  be more vigilant about their kids'  online  be-

          Alas, mandatory education and licensing are easier said
     than done.

          For  one thing, who's going to create and  enforce  the
     rules?  A Federal Computing Commission or a  United  Nations
     (news - web sites) for Computing?

          Jonathan Zittrain, a Harvard law professor and Internet
     specialist, believes technology advances too quickly.  Less-
     ons  become outdated. Repeat certifications would be  neces-

          While  the basic security lesson used to boil  down  to
     "don't click on attachments," viruses today spread in  mani-
     fold ways.

          And  what do we do about the illiterate and  the  disa-
     bled,  about  people vexed by standardized tests?  Bar  them
     from the online world? Grant them limited rights to use  but
     not own a computer?

          To combat threats, software companies have been  trying
     to  make  technology easier to use -  Microsoft  Corp.,  for
     instance,  is  considering automating the download  and  in-
     stallation of software fixes. No user intervention required.

          Others have focused on education.

          The  Federal  Trade  Commission has  plenty  of  online
     resources  on preventing Internet fraud (news -  web  sites)

     and  protecting  privacy. Parry Aftab,  an  Internet  safety
     expert,  is  trying to get funding for Super Safe  Kiddo,  a
     mascot  she hopes will become an Internet version of  Smokey
     Bear or McGruff the Crime Dog.

          But many Internet users ignore such efforts.

          They blithely click past notifications like those  from  alerting users to impending installations of  its
     ad-delivery software. Then they complain and wonder how  the
     software got there.

          Such  habits  won't necessarily change  if  we  require
     licenses and expect minimum skills.

          After  all, licensed motorists still speed  and  ignore
     stop signs.

          Not to mention all the fake IDs.


          Anick Jesdanun can be reached at netwriter(at)

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