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Letters So, who is responsible for what, online? This is the question of the moment, thanks to the whole MySpace furore. Some argue that the parents should monitor their sprolings' use of the internet, others that companies need to do more to make their chat pages safer places to be. Falling into the former category was Scott Granneman, over at Security Focus, who argued that we are : in the midst of a mass hysteria.

Good article.

One interesting statistic (which we will never know) would be: what is the risk associated with MySpace/other social networking site compared with the risk associated with, say, crossing the road once a day? I bet the answer is `much lower'. --tim


This is something me and my mates have been rambling about for sometime, when I was a kid a mere 10 or so years ago I was taught simple things like "Don't take sweets from strangers, Don't go anywhere with strangers, Just becouse you've seen us talk to someone doesn't mean they arn't strangers" beyond that I and my friends had free reign.

Just coz someone has a cheesy grin and a packet of sweets don't mean their a good person to talk to. The internet is just an extension of the real world, especially if you allow the two to cross (sending people photos, meeting up, etc) and shouldn't be treated any different to sitting in a large park full of people. There are accepted rules to meeting people online don't meet alone, always meet in a public place, tell people where your going and what your doing, tell people when you'll be back, inform someone you'll ring them at x oclock. If someone has problems with the rules it should ring pretty big alarm bells.

I find that nowdays parents just refuse to take responsibility and think that other people should ensure their childrens safety be it the police, teachers, internet companies or drivers. We used to get taught how to cross roads safely too, I know, shocking. People in general don't take responsibility, it hacks me off.

Matt


Kids these days never had it so bad. FFS I set a 60-acre wood on fire when I was little (11 - count 'em - 11 fire engines!), never mind chatted up dirty old men (or other sex hungry teens) via the Instant Messager software running on the personal computer that was yet to be invented.

When I was little, girls were RL things, and you had to go somewhere in the first place to arrange to meet them elsewhere. I don't believe my mother was ever informed exactly where either of those places were - At least now they know the former is in your bedroom! The difference between a bike ride and the Internet is that "the media" (and so parents/general public) think that the Internet SHOULD be controllable (it's IT!); bike rides are not and never will be (so parents have banned bike rides altogether).

When I was little selling pr0n mags (or nuddy mags as we called 'em, bless us) were the best method of supplementing the 25p a week pocket money I got. However, there wasn't a campaign to scare parents about dumped bin-bags and their contents way back then.

So, you are applauded for your no nonsense approach to one more tabloid invented horror story (an attitude that is getting rarer and rarer on this esteemed publication* ... Many contributors should read the Official Tag Line - You obviously have) Andy


I think you make a mistake using the analogy of the phone to argue that controlling access to the internet is wrong. Your argument is based solely on the fact that both are relatively new (on the scale of human history) means of communication and that because access to one is not controlled, the other shouldn't be either.

That the phone and the internet are relative new technology is about the only thing they have in common. For the rest they are completely different.

The first difference is that posing as a different person is far more difficult on the phone than on the internet. As a 50+ paedofile, try selling yourself as a 14 year old girl on the phone. Second difference is efficiency. On the internet you can dredge for victims far, far more efficiently, maintaining several chats concurrently. Try doing that on the phone.

Third difference: the phone is more anonymous. On MySpace, people advertise themselves. Compare that to the phone book: only names, addresses and numbers. Good luck finding a potential victim!

The example you use is not quite convincing either. The girl started phoning random numbers. It was the victim that took the initiative, not the perpetrator.

The internet has enabled all sorts of bad people to hunt far more efficiently, to a level that it is becoming a problem and attracting attention.

I do agree with you on the general opinion you tried to convey in your article. Education, parental control and common sense should prevail. We should not lay our faith in all kinds of laws and control mechanisms. All they do is make you lazy and dumb. If there are sensible measures that can be taken to hamper the predators, I'm all for it. But as soon as they are perceived as waterproof, we're back in trouble.

There is no holy grail of online safety and anything suggesting otherwise, is a big danger.

Anne van der Bom


Okay, so how about shifting power into the hands of sites like MySpace? Pass a law that gives them a nice, big, hefty legal stick to sue the living snot out of anyone whom they can prove has lied about their age? I understand that it wouldn't do very much good in the short term, but it'd be a start and it'd give them a real financial incentive to come up with creative ways of evaluating ages.

Richard


This week also saw the NHS and its beleaguered IT system hitting the headlines once again:

Good to see that some of the truth about this crazy project is finally getting into the open. Some of the recent "revelations" pretty much match up with all of my experience on the programme. The cracks are all starting to show anyway. Great stuff - keep on chasing it. All the best, A.


Surely the issue isn't if the project was well managed considering how ambitious it is - its if such an ambitious project should have been started at all. We can't have the government starting random projectiles like the ID Cards and when it all inevitably goes wrong saying "well, we tried our best"...


>> "There's a shortage of capacity in the healthcare IT industry and we've had to bring in a lot of resources from abroad," said Granger. <<

Only in the sense that there's a shortage of food if 20 unexpected guests suddenly turn up on your doorstep.

If the piloting and consultation phases had been rolled out a few years ago, that might have given local UK businesses a chance to participate.

Regards, Mike


And yet more from the department of government getting IT horribly wrong, with news that the CSA is rubbish, and that all the money thrown at it has made not one iota of difference:

Most galling about the CSA debacle is that we already have a gov department adept at giving out cash, the DSS (or whatever it's called now), and one for collecting it, the Inland Rev.

So keep the decision making part of the CSA and scrap the rest, all sorted. Where can I send my invoice for £91m?

Ian


An interesting piece about the CSA IT failure. However, you seem to think that the privacy of Gateway reviews is a causative problem - a view I would humbly disagree with.

The purpose of Gateway reviews is to get a clear picture of project progress free from political pressures to gloss over difficulties. They are intended primarily to help the people undertaking the project and to catch difficulties in the project early. If these reviews were made public, you can bet that the quality and honesty of information in them would take a nose-dive. Essentially, they are a form of peer review (conducted by people outside the organisation). Of course, they are no guarantee of success, especially if their findings are ignored by the project's management.

I do agree though that audits should be performed whose results are publicly available - I think there is room for both, as they both serve different purposes.

Matt


91 million pounds on auditing services that all

came in with the same conclusion and NOBODY DID ANYTHING ABOUT IT !?! Which mindless bureaucrat rubber-stamped those reports without reading them ?

Which neuron-free assembly of morons approved audit after audit when they all came back saying the same thing? Were they looking for an auditor to tell them what they wanted to hear, or what?

91 million pounds. I'll bet there's a lot that such an amount of money could have done to help children. Instead, it was thrown to the wolves. The sad thing about all this is that people won't remember it when election time comes.

I wonder what the global IT cost in failed projects is since Blair came into power. Someone should add it all up and present each and every government official with the result - in front of a TV camera.

Pascal.

Hmm. All very depressing. Fun stuff starts on the next page.

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