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Who’s Responsible

August 3, 2012

This is really scary. Someone being sued for downloading a porn movie illegally. I have nothing against porn, and I certainly think that downloading stuff that’s a copyright violation shouldn’t be mainstream as in Amazon giving away movies for free without compensating owners of the copyrights.

Setting that aside, there’s something fundamentally disturbing about our computing devices, which are assumed to be under our control, but may not be, even when they are.

I need to write more, but as a quick analogy, if I’m using my car, no one else can use it. At least not without me being somewhat aware of the actions. Someone could hide contraband in my trunk, where I rarely look, but they’re not going to get it transported anywhere I’m not going.

Contrast that with your computer. You could be infected with a virus (as an all-encompassing term for rouge processes) that could potentially be downloading (or uploading) something you don’t expect, including copyrighted content, or even attacking other computers (for example, as part of a DDOS botnet). It could do this while you were working on a flyer for your kid’s birthday party in Word, or checking your email.

Is that your fault? If you use an A/V program? If your kids hit a site returned in a Google search that installed malware? If you bought a piece of software that had it embedded? I’m not avoiding responsibility here, but it’s a thorny issue as to who’s at fault, and more importantly, to what extent do we expect people to be aware of what’s happening?

Tough times ahead if we don’t get a handle on security and digital laws.

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