Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A thorn in the nice, fluffy cloud

At Netscape in 1999, I recall entering into the office one morning and being approached by reporters asking if I knew about the email scandal between the company and its competitor Microsoft. Having been briefed by a diligent human resources group, I had no comment but was well aware of its happening and the wave of damage control, present and future, it created through our organization. I think I can say that, generally speaking, can't I?

Perhaps more important than the legislation which followed that event was a lesson far greater. The Web offers vast opportunities, really, it's quite fantastic. But it's rapid growth and non-standardized services are more akin to a pool of pirahnas than the relatively slow-moving frontiers we previously conquered in print, radio or TV. Regulations are enforced by priority of the greatest threat, not based on wrongdoing. The whole Internet is a unsupervised free-for-all, where the bullies and the thiefs experience virtual nirvana.

There are pirates worse than those selling films illegally. And a ten year old child finding porn online is nothing compared to the potential information breeches we non-chalantly invite by sending our data over the ether. Who is in charge here? What is the percentage of policemen to citizens around the world? We need a global presence. In the meantime, we have to be vigilante, which is really irritating because not everybody has contacts at the big ISPs. We all have other things to do. It's like having to chase down a bankrobber for your bank.

Excuse my rant but let me pass along some advice. Change your passwords, now. Back everything up and if you aren't friends with someone who knows how to track down fraud on the Web, I hear they drink a lot of coffee those techies. Christen your new friendship with a double, non-fat, frappa-whateva-he-wants.

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