L. Neil Smith's
Number 192, September 30, 2002


by the Editor

Exclusive to TLE


I used to think a lot more of "geeks" than I do today -- though, in fairness, I'm really only referring to a few, and not to the entire sub-species. (Yes, I realize that a person in the computer field is not a "geek"; that a true "geek" is a member of an honorable, noble, and ancient guild having nothing whatsoever to do with computers; and that "geek" may be considered by some to be disparaging when applied to information technologists. Nevertheless ...)

The FedGov's "President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board" has released a document called "The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace", as part of a presidential initiative "... to ensure that America has a clear roadmap to protect a part of its infrastructure so essential to our way of life."

It amazes me that the prevailing atitude among "geeks" (or "journa- geeks" at least) seems to be that the major flaw in this latest government initiative is that it doesn't go far enough in both regulating the industry and enacting new restrictive legislation.

Consider these statements from the authors of two representative articles:

"Perhaps if software companies were liable by law for their products' lack of security, we wouldn't need such a weighty plan to secure cyberspace. We know that regulation works reasonably well in other industries. ...

"Although the government is taking an admirable path to better computer security, it doesn't seem to notice the more obvious problem of an unregulated and not-liable software industry. ..."

-- Mark Joseph Edwards mark@ntsecurity.net

"The administration's plan, called the 'National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace,' stresses that primary responsibility for Internet security must come from individuals and corporations, rather than the government. It does not call for new laws or regulations aimed at the private sector.

"In other words, little has changed."

-- Robert Lemos and Declan McCullagh
[This article, while less overtly biased, does "leak" a little, here and there.]

It used to be that computers geeks -- even if they were socialists -- tended toward anarchy rather than Nanny Statism. But, all things considered, I guess I really shouldn't be too surprised.

Stories continue to trickle in about the "Looney Tune" antics of airport security screeners. I just can't wait until the TSA staffs up their version.

Reports from screening centers indicate huge numbers of applicants; the good news, if there is any, is that the initial screening exam reject rate is apparently as high as 50% in some areas. Regardless of the level of competency of those hired, the ultimate governing factor is the set of regulations they are required to enforce.

The Secretary of Transportation did say that he was dropping the requirement that passengers be questioned whether they have had control of their bags or were asked to carry something on a flight. Whoopee! That should speed things right along.

Many major airports say that they cannot meet the December 31 deadline for screening all checked baggage; while the DoT insists that TSA screeners will be fully staffed by November, it seems obvious that such a requirement begs sacrificing quality for quantity.

It's important to always remember that this is a federal government program.

All that notwithstanding, seven in 10 people asked in a ABC News- Washington Post poll say they approve of President Bush's handling of the campaign on terror. [source]. One always wonders about polls these days, and rightfully so. But if that's true, one also has to wonder about our ability to ever "educate" enough individuals about the evils of "government".


Net Assets
by Carl Bussjaeger
"Access to Space for Everyone!"

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