Has Technology Come Too Far Too Fast?

Cybercrime has been a problem since the creation of the first computer network. Because of recent increases in the number of severe attacks against e-commerce Web sites, the US government thinks we need stronger identity and tracking controls on the Internet. US Attorney General Janet Reno recently said law enforcement agencies should have realtime tracking of Internet users and the ability to locate wireless phones and modems. She also wants law enforcement agencies to be able to identify anonymous email users. Those bold statements could eventually spell an end to Internet privacy if the statements come to fruition.

Reno also questions whether a Web site and its Webmaster's computer are a true "work in progress." Works in progress are protected from confiscation under US laws that govern freedom of the press.

Has technology come too far too fast? If the laws required to govern cyberspace also lessen or defeat our Constitutional rights, then I think the answer is yes, technology has definitely come too far.

Five years ago, few businesses sold goods and services over the Internet, but today the practice is commonplace. As great as the Internet seems to be, it could actually become the tool that topples personal privacy and freedom of speech.

The push to popularize e-commerce is everywhere. Even top Wall Street investment advisors now say, "Drop the blue chips and invest in technology firms." As a result, the Dow Jones average fell, while the NASDAQ continues to climb. The future is a completely electronic world where a simple trip to the local supermarket will become a rarity. Instead, you'll order everything online and wait for delivery. Businesses will compete not only on price and service, but on delivery time, as well. Will our rights and liberties be intact when the digital age comes to its full fruition?

What will the world be like if, in our shortsightedness, we restrict or eliminate liberties on the Internet, when we know that soon the Internet will be vital to our existence? When we contemplate new laws, rules, and regulations for the Internet today, we must do so with the digital future in mind, knowing that we will come to rely on the digital avenues for many aspects of day-to-day living.

We must secure our future freedom by acting responsibly today. We must guard against intruders, minimize their effects, and resist the temptation to sensationalize security breaches. In addition, intruders need to think very hard about what their actions will result in over the long run. If we don't self-govern today, then we’ll pay for our shortcomings tomorrow by giving up most of our Internet privacy in the name of safe e-commerce.

Keep an eye on your country's politics as intensely as you watch for network security risks. Lawmakers are shaping the online world as fast and as powerfully as any hot new technology, and they're shaping it on the coattails of every cracker's deeds. Until next time, have a great week.

TAGS: Security
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