Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Internet as the Wild West

I'm not sure when people will realize that software companies, microsoft, and the governments of the world really are failing to protect everyone on the internet.

I'm always amazed when people on Slashdot or that I talk to bemoan the existence of vigilanties on the internet. Don't they realize there is no law in cyberspace?
The internet today is the badlands, the American west in 1850.

Yes, technically the law applies.
No, it is not enforced.

I'm not actually arguing there should be more law enforcement online. One of the magnificent properties of the internet is that it is not owned by anyone. An American non-profit does technically "control" it, and there are companies that own the backbones, but it is in their interest to leave the internet alone. And that's the way it should be.

Right now, there is some law enforcement online, but only when what happens affects real people in the real world. Do cops prowl kids chat rooms looking for child molesters? Yes, but that is a real world harm (just about the worst I can think of). Do cops care if someone releases a worm or hacks into your companies server? Do they actually ever do anything? No.

Until that day arrives (if it ever does), I will support any responsible action taken to defend internet users who are not as security consious as they should be.

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