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
"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
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-
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
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-
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
WhenU.com 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
Not to mention all the fake IDs.
Anick Jesdanun can be reached at netwriter(at)ap.org.
More information about the Rushtalk