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Crime Expert Backs Call For "License To Compute" 327

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the natural-selection-working-just-fine dept.
The Cable Guy writes to mention that Russel Smith, one of Australia's principal criminologists, is pushing for first-time computer users to be required to earn a license to browse the web. "The Australian Computer Society launched computer driver's licenses in 1999. It aimed to give users a basic level of competency before they started using PCs. But the growth in cybercrime has led to IT security experts such as Eugene Kaspersky to call for more formalized recognition of a user's identity so they can travel the net safely. Last week Dr. Smith sat in front of a Federal Government Inquiry into cybercrime and advised Australia's senior politicians on initiatives in train to fight cybercrime. He said that education was secondary to better technology solutions."
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Crime Expert Backs Call For "License To Compute"

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  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:10PM (#29236959) Journal
    more formalized recognition of a user's identity so they can travel the net safely

    How does letting THEM, know who I am, make ME safer?
    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Zen Hash (1619759) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:13PM (#29236993)

      How does letting THEM, know who I am, make ME safer?

      The same way painting your car red makes it go faster.

    • Obviously the idea is that if they make everyone register before they can connect, then cybercriminals can be easily tracked down in real life.

      Obviously it's impossible, but the suggestion sort of makes sense coming from someone who has absolutely no idea what he's talking about. It might have been possible if this sort of thing had been mandated 40 years ago.

      • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:39PM (#29237287) Journal

        Hmmm. This requirement that you need a license/ID to "travel the net" is roughly equivalent to saying I need a license to walk down the sidewalk. "Papiere bitte." "I don't have any papers." "Papiere schnell!" "I told you I don't have any papers. Hey! Let go!" And then you get arrested for walking without ID.

        You shouldn't need "permission" to travel freely either IRL or online.

        Something like this happened on my Alma Mater. My old professor invited me to come visit for a student presentation day, which I did, and then I had dinner with some of the students, and watched a little MTV in the *public* lounge. Suddenly a security guard came-up and demanded my ID. I said it's in my car. Then she tried to escort me to the security office, and I refused. I told her I'll just leave and did so, even though she tried to stop me (I run faster).

        To say I was angry is an understatement. Can you imagine the same thing happening everywhere you go in real life, or on the net???

        Oh:

        And yes the president of the college got an angry phonecall. I told him that he won't be getting any more donations from me. If my presence as a graduate is not welcome, then neither is my money.

        • by Alinabi (464689)

          You shouldn't need "permission" to travel freely either IRL or online.

          Next time someone asks for your passport, tell them that.

          • I will because I don't have a passport, and therefore (almost) never leave the country. I'm allowed to travel freely within my own country.

          • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... t ['etz' in gap]> on Friday August 28, 2009 @09:42PM (#29238715) Homepage Journal

            Most people forget that a passport is a relatively recent "invention" of governments. Prior to the 20th Century, and even throughout most of the 20th Century, most ordinary citizens did not have a passport when traveling between countries. This was originally a device to indicate some sort of diplomatic status and to certify that status on an official basis.

            Countries, even modern industrialized countries with large and very mobile populations with access to cheap transportation methods affordable by ordinary laborers, had citizens that were able to and indeed did travel between other countries... including as mere "tourists". You were pretty much who you claimed to be, and if you packed up and moved elsewhere establishing a new identify, nobody really cared as long as you were law-abiding and generally neighborly.

            This said, telling somebody from a law-enforcement agency that they don't need to see your identification is generally frowned upon as those in law enforcement love to be in charge and in control. A lack of ID puts the officer at a distinct disadvantage as they simply don't know how to react to a perfect stranger with no background as to who that person might be. Getting the ID (including passport) implies that the law enforcement agencies and officers can get a database on who you are, how harmless or otherwise you might be, and to track your actions and movements. Information, any information in this case, is power. This data can and will be used against you for any of their purposes... which is why liberty-seeking individuals bristle at the thought of giving ID information for nearly any reason, and then only reluctantly.

            • Most people forget that a passport is a relatively recent "invention" of governments. Prior to the 20th Century, and even throughout most of the 20th Century, most ordinary citizens did not have a passport when traveling between countries. This was originally a device to indicate some sort of diplomatic status and to certify that status on an official basis.

              While I do agree with most of your post, I had to question this one aspect. The term/word passport is a modern one, the working concept of 'passports'

        • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Steve Franklin (142698) on Friday August 28, 2009 @07:24PM (#29237753) Homepage Journal

          I think the analogy you are missing is the one that involves having a license to read. After all, it's a lot more efficient that burning books. Just give everyone a test for proper thinking before you give them a license to use this "dangerous" medium. You think Kennedy was killed by someone other than J Edgar Hoover's man in the CIA? You think WTC 7 looks suspiciously like a controlled demolition? No reading for you, sonny.

    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FooAtWFU (699187) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:28PM (#29237161) Homepage
      When all you see at your job all day long is a bunch of nails, you start looking for a big old hammer.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by NotQuiteReal (608241)
        Heh. With apologies to Maslow, but I prefer to think of certain folks as working with nothing but screwdrivers all day, rather than hammers. So...

        If the only tool you have is a screwdriver, everything looks like it needs to be screwed.

        And the irony is how many screws are still loose.
    • by gmuslera (3436)
      *if* worldwide, means that they know also whoever is attacking you, or a company, or put your pc in a botnet, etc. The problem is that that will mean virtually no privacy/freedom/anon/etc for good guys, and the bad guys will probably still be hidden doing whatever they want. And the who watches the watchers problem will be a very big one.
    • It doesn't, but it would give security experts more power -- more money. And it wouldn't solve other security problems, such as social engineering through the phone, or someone knocking on your door to scam you in person, etc.
    • The concept of being licensed to use a computer is entirely bad. Not that I think it's "good", but it's not entirely bad.

      If computer education starts with bash, we could make it a "good" thing. Imagine - millions of people who start computing with a basic understanding of files systems and low level operations.

      Wait a minute - - - does Microsoft have a lobby in Australia? Hmmm - stupid question, right? These classes will teach people that clicking "start" is the right way to turn a computer off. Totally

    • How does letting THEM, know who I am, make ME safer?

      Because the bad actors are also "users"; reliably accountable online communication would make phishing and all kinds of other frauds much less viable. (Note that I'm not arguing that the benefits in that regard are necessarily worth the costs to privacy, or that getting really reliable accountability in place is necessarily feasible socially even if it is technically feasible.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:12PM (#29236973)

    Computers license YOU !

    Yours In Ulyanovsk,
    Kilgore Trout

  • Russel Smith, principal criminologist at the Australian Institute of Criminology said the concept of a "computer drivers licence" should be taken seriously as an option for combating internet-related crime.

    I assume you then creating a version of the DMV (perhaps the Department of Internet Access) and they would give you your computer driver's test, and internet drivers licensee, and you'd have to renew it every so many years, bla bla bla. Not to mention the fact that it would be impossible to enforce ..
    • by Foofoobar (318279)
      Honestly I'd like to see them create separate tests for Linux, Mac and Windows cause one test does NOT apply to all three.
      • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Funny)

        by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:27PM (#29237157) Homepage Journal

        Honestly I'd like to see them create separate tests for Linux, Mac and Windows

        That's hardly an inclusive list. I'm not going to bother reading the article, the idea of an internet license has been floated for a long time now, but they probably need to add smart phones too.

        If this actually makes sense (I do not think it does), the obvious next step is to require people to purchase internet insurance in case they get into an accident/install malware and spread SPAM or DDOS attacks.

        Sigh.

      • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Funny)

        by mcpkaaos (449561) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:31PM (#29237203)

        Honestly I'd like to see them create separate tests for Linux, Mac and Windows cause one test does NOT apply to all three.

        Well, the real test with Linux is installing it. The real test with Windows is not having to reinstall it every few months. I've only used a Mac a handful of times, but I'd imagine the real test there is enduring the daily beatings for your lunch money.

        Okay, I tend to agree with you.

        • Okay, that actually made me laugh out loud.
        • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Funny)

          by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday August 28, 2009 @07:26PM (#29237763) Journal
          We Mac users don't have 'lunch money'. Carrying cash is far below us, and we wouldn't dream of any meal as pedestrian as 'lunch'. We live mainly on a diet of coffee (real coffee, not the plebeian Starbucks imitation that Windows-users drink or [shudder] instant coffee). When we dine, we do so lavishly, at the expense of others.
      • Re:Nonsense (Score:4, Funny)

        by mysidia (191772) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:36PM (#29237239)

        I expect Linux and Mac users probably require a special "UNIX" endorsment on their license to run a real OS, like large truck drivers need.

        iPhone and similar mobile devices (with mobile browsers) need a license similar to what one needs to legally operate a motorcycle.

        This could cause a resurgence in simpler phone devices, they'd have a niche market for people who don't want to pay the fees for a special license to operate a web browser on a phone.

        Also, don't forget, these licenses only last 4 years, they contain a picture, and can only be renewed online once every other time.

        So every 8 years, you have to go back to the Department of Electrocomputers and wait in line for 2 or 3 hours to get your renewal, as well as your typing skills (WPM) test.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Honestly I'd like to see them create separate tests for Linux, Mac and Windows cause one test does NOT apply to all three.

        Sure it does. "This is the address bar. This part is the hostname. 'http' means you're in danger, 'https' means there's a bit less danger, a green bar with the name of the company you're trying to do business with means there's even less." "Don't open unexpected email attachments, no matter how much free porn they promise." "If the lights on your modem are always on even when you're not using the computer, get the computer looked at by a professional."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zocalo (252965)
      You don't need to "enforce" the license via law enforcement, although it could make it interesting in connection with legislation where your computer was found to be a member of a botnet if you didn't have one. All you need to do is require that businesses only employ computer operators who have a license. I'm pretty sure you'd have a hard time getting a job as a delivery driver, say, without a valid driving license. How many career opportunities do you think that you'd have in the world if you need a li
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by neonprimetime (528653)
        >>> but if you can get business on board then it very practical indeed.

        i still don't think it's practical ... from nearly every aspect. and in general it just sounds like another government bureaucracy that will be bloated and increase our taxes. to be honest, i'm surprised president obama hasn't already proposed this in america. but maybe he needs to gain control [slashdot.org] of the internet first, and then he will regulate it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Zocalo (252965)
          It's no more impractical than driving licenses, passports or any number of other of other professional certifications, and documentation that are required to practice a trade in countless careers. The only stumbling block is for a government to want to implement the bureacracry and amount of backend storage and processing power that will be required to operate the system. If you think through the implications of that last sentence for a minute, then you'll realise that quite a lot of parties also get some
    • are police gonna enter your home and approach you at your desk as ask to see your license?

      I see you're beginning to get the idea. Now, to make the process more efficient, all they need to due is install a camera at the appropriate point and monitor it randomly.

    • Re:Nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dave562 (969951) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:24PM (#29237107) Journal
      It seems like yet another reason, to create yet another bureaucracy, to collect yet more fees from people for doing the same things that they do every day.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mysidia (191772)

      Also, if you live in the US, and want to use a computer to connect to a .AU web site, you're going to have to fly all the way to Australia to take your computing test at the Australian Department of Electro Computers to get a license and therefore permission to access the australian interweb, otherwise you'll get a warning on your first offense, assessed a large escalating fine on your second, third, and fourth offenses, and finally, on your fifth offense, you will be required to mail your computer to the

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      DING DING DING.... you win the prize.

      it's a money grab. a desire to create a new department to suck up more taxes to do something that really is not needed.

      Actually the DMV could be removed and nothing would change. The roads are already full of unlicensed cars and drivers. Nothing would change.

      This guy got an idea on how to make himself a nice high paying govt job by creating a department that is useless and un-needed.

      The Auzzies are getting good and what the US government does!

      Next up, we start taxing t

  • Classic example (Score:5, Insightful)

    by G33kGuy (1152863) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:14PM (#29237007) Homepage
    Classic example of trading freedom for "security", I can only hope this is not put through. This could also severely restrict younger peoples (legal) access to the internet, narrowing their horizons drastically.
    • Re:Classic example (Score:4, Insightful)

      by txoof (553270) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:31PM (#29237199) Homepage

      They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. --Benjamin Franklin [wikiquote.org]

      It is rather idiotic to relate using a computer to using operating a vehicle. A two ton piece of steel flying down the highway at 120k/h is vastly more of a public safety threat than any shmo using a laptop. Not only does this proposition fail to consider the nightmare of registering private individuals, but it does not take into consideration the corporate nightmare it would cause. Who would need the license, the individual operating the computer, or the owner of the computer? Would this mean that internet cafes (and the small anonymity they provide) be doomed because everyone would be forced to provide some sort of identifier token? What about libraries? This sort of identification requirement would force libraries and their entire mission of providing freely accessible information in jeopardy.

      This looks like either a poorly thought out plan to help regulate stupidity or a power grab. As evidenced by warning labels on coffee cups, plastic bags and every other mass-produced item, trying to protect people from their own stupidity is nearly impossible. On the other hand, this would be a huge boon for those that wish to dissolve freedom and anonymity on the internet. Granted the average person leaves flashing neon signs with most of their personal data flashing in 1km high letters when they browse, there are still a large number of people that take online anonymity seriously and use it to their advantage for all sorts of reasons the most important being political dissidents.

      A simpler solution would be to set up a Great-Firewall much like China's. Even though the GFW has proven to be less than great [typepad.com], it provides basically the same mechanism for keeping people out of the reach of "dangerous ideas".

      Let's focus on educating people as to their rights and responsible behavior rather than trying to remove their liberties. We should also probably focus some of that energy on making the intertubes more robust and less prone to point failures and exploits; making the network more robust and idiot proof would benefit the entire world and help make dangerous and promiscuous users a danger to them selves rather than the entire world.

  • Old Joke (Score:4, Insightful)

    by meerling (1487879) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:15PM (#29237013)
    Techies have been joking about this for many decades.

    Realistically though, we all know it's about as likely as needing a license to read or talk.

    I find it hard to believe anyone is actually wanting such a concept to become law. What's next, a license for sex?
    • by rbanffy (584143)

      "What's next, a license for sex?"

      I hope Russel Smith never gets one. That would save the world from his offspring, probably making it a better place for the rest of us.

      • It's not too far-fetched. It was tried by some. Try looking at various countries' eugenics and sterilization endeavors.
    • Shhh ... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SL Baur (19540)

      What's next, a license for sex?

      Sadly, that actually makes more sense in this day and age of incurable STDs. The license states clearly when your last test was done and which (if any) STDs you have.

      That should actually be welcome news to the average slashdotter who rarely ventures from his mother's basement - you're now a highly prized date. And even better news to Americans who would now have grounds to sue if they caught an STD from having sex with someone who showed a clean license.

      • Re:Shhh ... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by apoc.famine (621563) <apoc,famine&gmail,com> on Friday August 28, 2009 @10:20PM (#29238915) Homepage Journal

        Bah, STDs aren't bad. Kids you don't want are far worse.
         
        I'm an inhuman monster who things we should sterilize everyone at 12. If they want kids some time later, have them pass a simple parenting test, and the process is reversed.
         
        Having spent a lot of time around kids who were the product of "oh shit, I'm pregnant", it doesn't seem like a bad idea at all. Parents who are willing to jump through hoops to have a kid are far more likely to raise a good one than those who didn't want one, but had one anyway.

    • Old SCARY Joke!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Examination_Day [wikipedia.org]
    • Re:Old Joke (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dan541 (1032000) on Friday August 28, 2009 @08:24PM (#29238249) Homepage

      What's next, a license for sex?

      We used to, it was called marriage.

  • by Foofoobar (318279) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:15PM (#29237015)
    Honestly if this were like a drivers license test where even senior citizen's were taught basic computer skill's and had to pass a basic exam to purchase a computer, it would probably cut down on the number of zombies in botnets. It would guarantee that even the most technophobic in our society had the basic skills to protect himself and others. You can do alot of damage if your computer is taken over or hacked without your knowledge.
    • by rbanffy (584143)

      There is a better way: hold people accountable for the actions of their computers. A virus downloaded child porn to your computer? It's your computer and thus your responsibility to keep it secure. Your computer is sending e-mail scams? Too bad you have to go to jail for this, but you should know better before installing that fake anti-virus you saw on a web site.

      If people drove cars or flew airplanes with the same care they maintain their computers, we would be all dead.

      • However you can't cause any -real- harm with a computer. Yah, you can be a dick, yes you can trash some systems, yes you can make things slow and shut down from servers but that is it.
      • by Urkki (668283)

        There is a better way: hold people accountable for the actions of their computers.

        Or better yet, hold programmers personally responsible for the misbehavior of their programs. So if you release a program that has a security hole that causes a million PCs to be hijacked, BAM, it's life in a prison! And not just your regular US federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison, no. This is international crime. The guilty should be sent to some real prison, somewhere in the remote parts of China for example.

    • by Un pobre guey (593801) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:22PM (#29237091) Homepage
      None of those things are true, nor are senior citizens the only dipshits out there.

      This is moronic legislation put forth by corrupt, ignorant, and incompetent politicians. It would serve no useful purpose, not even helping people avoid fraud. It is stupidity, pure and simple.

      Sheesh...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stephanruby (542433)
      I can just imagine his testimony now. "All you politicians are idiots. You shouldn't even be allowed to use computers."
  • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:17PM (#29237039)

    Dear Australia:

    1. Get a hardware firewall and configure it properly.

    2. Don't open unexpected attachments, even if you're trying to help because those strata minutes must have been sent to you by mistake and you should read them to find out who to send them to.

    3. Don't click the banners.

    4. No, it's not true. Don't forward the email.

    5. If a computer asks you for information, lie.

    6. It's not your bank. It's NEVER your bank. It's also never paypal, amazon, your ISP, or the police.

    Love,
    1999.

    • by Un pobre guey (593801) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:25PM (#29237121) Homepage
      They should put that on billboards and every other kind of public service announcement all over the world. Not that it would work particularly well, but over time it might. Like the gradual reduction of smoking in the US.
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        We had one in detroit that was put up Illegally. It said, "If it wasn't for HR stopping us, I.T. would have killed most of you by now."

        It was up in spraypaint off of 696 in Oct of 2006 for nearly 2 weeks. I loved it.

    • by RobVB (1566105)
      7. No, you didn't win the Nigerian lottery.
      • 7b. Nor did you inherit millions of dollars from any Nigerians. Note that you are white and do not have any friends, relatives, acquaintances, colleagues, or coworkers in Nigeria.
  • by pwizard2 (920421) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:18PM (#29237047)
    I can understand where they are coming from, but they are going to implement it wrong. (with the heavy-handed license approach) Rather, I think that computer literacy should be something that should be taught in school along with reading and math, since computer skills essential in this day and age. The class shouldn't be about how to use popular software, (although covering operating systems besides Windows would be a plus) but should cover basic skills instead. People need to learn why they shouldn't click the "greetingcard.exe" attachment in their email inbox or why it is a bad idea to share too much personal information online. People don't always pick on stuff like that by themselves, so it has to be taught.
    • by jefu (53450)

      But "computer literacy" courses (and I work as a professor in a department that makes all kinds of money by making people take these courses) are almost always about "how to change fonts in MS Word". Ech. There is some minimal discussion of security, but only in the sections taught by our better grad students.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      But what do you do about people who left school before the Internet became commonplace? I'm only in my 20s, but I left school before the height of the dot-com boom and back then my school had a dual ISDN (128Kb/s) line for 700 or so students (only 70 computers scattered over the school though, and not many of the ones outside the computer lab were networked). Realistically, you can't expect anyone over about 25 to have been taught much about the Internet in school. Certainly no one over 30, and that acco
  • Oh, wait. Safety devices make us all safer. Damn, I was so close.
  • by srjh (1316705) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:32PM (#29237211)

    With any other country I'd be prepared to laugh it off, but the current Australian government is stupid, technologically ignorant and authoritarian enough to try this.

    They're pushing for enough control of the internet as it is, a license to communicate in the first place is just begging for abuse.

  • by martas (1439879) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:51PM (#29237441)
    Experts have called for the introduction of a mandatory license for ownership of Dihydrogen Monoxide [dhmo.org], citing its common usage in the illegal manufacturing of most controlled substances.
  • If you're going to protect people from other people on the net, it's easy: Make the first level responsible. If your machine is used to attack me, you're responsible - even if your machine was broken into in turn. Then require people to have insurance to handle the risk.

    The insurance companies will spend the effort to find the risk profile, and if you do things to decrease your risk - like taking this kind of certificate - you'll get lower insurance. Basic economics then sort out how to get appropriate s

  • Is this so different from licensing people to read books?

    There's plenty of dangerous information in your local library that can be used for nefarious means...
  • "Russel Smith, one of Australia's principal criminologists, is pushing for first-time computer users to be required to earn a license"

    "He said that education was secondary to better technology solutions."

    I know, I know, I must be new here... Sounds like Russel Smith is saying maybe it's worth considering in the future, once better technology is in place. Which in my book is different to "pushing" for it. To be fair the original article was a bit sensationalist about this but on this occasion the user's s

  • 'Dr Smith also said that Australia's banks were "being kind" when they bore the costs of cyber crime.'

    Reminds me of this (Mitchell and Webb comedy sketch on identity theft): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS9ptA3Ya9E [youtube.com]

    Key quote from that sketch: 'I'm not clear why you think it's my identity that was stolen, rather than *your* money'

  • If the incompetence of some of the drivers I see on the roads is any indication, I doubt an internet license will ultimately be very effective either in many cases.
    • True.

      People thinking driving is a right and as such driving tests are easier to allow more or less anyone to drive. Computing licences and especially driving licences so should be much harder.
  • The ACS (Australian Computing Society) is considered a joke by the majority of computer professionals. A few of years ago (it may have changed) it was run by a lawyer and a recruiter. They approached Helen Coonan - the minister responsible - with the idea that every computer professional should be registered with the ACS *BY LAW* just like Doctors. Coonan being a politician didn't know any better and endorsed the idea.

    "The Australian" - a national broadsheet newspaper - ran the story and there was an outcry

    • The ACS has a sweetheart deal negotiated with a clueless former government. Any computer professional coming to Oz needs to pay the ACS $$$ to write them a letter saying "The applicant is a programmer who can get work here." The ACS has a monopoly on this. No other organization is allowed to write these letters. And on migrating the applicant has to become a member of the ACS.

      I know one programmer who migrated under this scheme. Second year he kept his ACS membership fee and instead he and his family rent
  • Sadly, something like this is probably inevitable. All it will take is a handful of cyber-attacks that actually harm the average Joe in a way that he can easily see, like taking out the local cable service.

  • Seriously, anything to keep the jack-off spackers off the net is a bonus.
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    Remember this is a Deal so treat with utmost confidentiality.

                    Yours faithfully,

                    DR. YABRIL OMOTAYO
  • by scifiber_phil (630217) on Friday August 28, 2009 @08:11PM (#29238133)
    Once the government gains the power to grant a license, it has the power to take away the license. Then, people start censoring themselves. (if I say the wrong thing on the internet, they'll take away my license.) I have to give my SSN every year just to get a license to fish, and the little machine checks into a state database before it will print out the license. It sure leaves no doubt as to who is the serf and who is the landed gentry in this relationship. Similar things would happen with an internet license, but worse.
  • by Jimmy_B (129296) <slashdot @ j i m r a n domh.org> on Friday August 28, 2009 @09:22PM (#29238623) Homepage
    Identity theft is a misleading term for bank fraud, and fighting it is the banks' responsibility, not the government's or the user's. We know how to do it, it just isn't getting done because of cost. Monetary transactions should be done with dedicated devices so that compromised computers can't be used to steal money. Reducing the number of compromised computers won't help because there are many of them and it only takes a few.
  • by burning-toast (925667) on Friday August 28, 2009 @09:43PM (#29238719)
    If they simply HAVE to do SOMETHING about this "problem" then might I suggest incentivizing basic computer knowledge as such:

    1. Optionally attach a basic computer literacy "certification" to your written drivers test which is renewed at the same place and time (license is imprinted with a symbol similar to the organ donor stuff). Leave the price of the ID / License the same.
    2. Government $5-10 dollar tax break for persons acquiring the literacy certification with an equal portion donated to a public fund in charge of supplying our most underfunded public schools with updated computer equipment purchased from used corporate leased equipment (this would be a public bid by hardware vendors for the contracts) with an option to donate your $5-10 credit to the same.

    ISP's could be compelled to give customers with this marking a small discount on their service since they will be a slightly lower risk than others.

    If enough people got the certification I just HAVE to think that the net effect of a more educated society would have some cost savings SOMEWHERE in the economy the same way that drivers licenses have most certainly prevented or reduced the number of fatal / expensive collisions on the road.

    I'm not generally a proponent of bigger government, but if we HAD to do something and massively f-ing expensive and complicated shit like computing licenses is already on the table then I would take my above approach instead of the more Orwellian approach in the summary.

    - Toast
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Friday August 28, 2009 @10:05PM (#29238825) Journal
    Computer has: CPU
    Cellphone has: CPU
    Computer has: input pad (keyboard)
    Cellphone has: input pad (numbers and associated buttons)
    Computer has: video screen
    Cellphone has: video screen
    Computer has: audio out to a jack or speaker
    Cellphone has: audio out to a jack or speaker
    Computer has: memory RAM
    Cellphone has: memory RAM
    Computer has: memory storage (HDD or SSD)
    Cellphone has: memory storage (usually SSD)

    So, given that a cellphone is, for most intention and purpose, fundamentally a fucking COMPUTER, are they going to make people get a license so they can operate it "safely"?

    Dear Antipodean legislators considering this legislation:

    I want you to know and understand very clearly that I, Ralph Spoilsport (owner and operator of Ralph Spoilsport Motors) think you are a complete and utterly pathetic pack of nimrods and all around stupid ass knuckleheads for letting such a notion get beyond the "gee, that's a dumb idea stage". By even considering this as a possible line of action puts you at the same level of the most knuckledragging retarded dipstick government reps normally only found in the Middle East or Red State America.

    If you actually pass this legislation, I hope your arms swell up and drop off.

    RS

  • punish the banks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by speedtux (1307149) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:31PM (#29239377)

    Dr Smith also said that Australia's banks were "being kind" when they bore the costs of cyber crime.

    No, they are simply taking advantage of their customers. Banks should be considered criminally negligent when their customers are victims of identify theft, since the technology to protect their customers exists and is not all that expensive, and the banks and their staff should be punished accordingly.

  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @02:29AM (#29240271) Journal

    Does Australia not license criminologists? Failure to do so can result in all manner of self-promoting twits making claims about themselves in order to get listened to long when they rant. In the US this is often seen when private investigators can't make enough money at their primary occupation (installing home and car security systems) and start charging people to listen to them hold forth on anything they think they've wrapped their head around. What makes me draw that parallel is the fact that I see nothing on the AIC web site that says they have a "principal criminologist". Also, keep in mind we do license PIs, but that doesn't stop them from acting a fool in other areas, which seems to be the case here.

  • years behind (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @04:22AM (#29240741) Homepage Journal

    These so-called experts are years behind what we know in the field.

    Yes, user education matters. A little.

    For example, years ago when "Phishing" was the big buzzword of the day, research revealed that computer "dummies" were pretty bad at distinguishing those phishing mails that came through the filters from genuine stuff. But security experts didn't score much better.

    We could certainly wish for a beginner's course to teach people some Netiquette, and tell them that it's a big, bad world out there and stop crying if not everyone works the way you want it, and that that's not because of the technology but because there's a lot of humans sitting on the other side.

    But from a security POV, it hardly matters. Give the bucks to lawyers so they can write up some software quality requirement laws and software product liability laws. You'll do ten times as much good.

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