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July 28, 2003

"Secure Computing" vs. Whistleblowers

In an interesting counter-trend to my observations about the future being in full view, Jim Rapoza at eWeek comments on the unintended (or intended) affects of "secure computing" technologies on the act of "whistleblowing"

A whole list of applications from other vendors will help companies lock down who can access what information, control how information and documents are disseminated inside and outside a company, and make it possible to track who has accessed specific information and documents.....I can't help but get the feeling that these software applications, designed for worthy goals, will end up being used to protect all kinds of corporate information and stop whistle-blowers before they can get started.

Many of these secure computing initiatives are well-intentioned.  We all have the right to secure communications - much as been written about preserving our right to PGP-signed email and other personal encryption technologies.  Much has also been written about the misuse of such technologies for exerting unprecendented control over how and when people use information and software. 

In this case, we're talking about good, legal initiatives fueling a side-effect that may be hard to live with.  There's no question ... whistle-blowing is often the courageous act of a lone soul that initiates the unravelling of corruption and other illegal and harmful activity.  It seems to me that the tools of personal publishing, including cell-phone cameras and Weblogs, provide the counter-balance that levels the playing field.  It may be that there will be increasing efforts by corporate and government entities, each persuing their own honorable and less-than-honorable goals, to lock down information, criminalize the sharing and publishing of information, and eliminate open and public access to the tools of personal publishing.  But, in the words of William Gibson, 

It is becoming unprecedentedly difficult for anyone, anyone at all, to keep a secret.

Posted by larryb at 07:39 AM [permanent link]
Category: Personal Video Publishing , Weblogs
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