☞ Dealing With The Real Issue

  • Show this to every politician: "What we need is security that's effective even if we can't guess the next plot: intelligence, investigation and emergency response. ... The real security failure on Christmas Day was in our reaction. We're reacting out of fear, wasting money on the story rather than securing ourselves against the threat. Abdulmutallab succeeded in causing terror even though his attack failed. If we refuse to be terrorized, if we refuse to implement security theater and remember that we can never completely eliminate the risk of terrorism, then the terrorists fail even if their attacks succeed."
  • While it's great to see Microsoft finally joining the SVG WG after all these years, let's not forget (as this article does) that they were involved at the beginning and it was their unforgivable NIH attitude in rejecting the decision of the WG not to use Microsoft's contribution that has kept vector graphics from being a web technology for a decade. Imagine what could have evolved by now had they not listened to their greed and control-lust and instead worked with everyone to perfect web vector graphics. Even still I can't help myself wondering if they have joined the WG to snuff it out by over-activity.
  • Given the news that Google is avoiding paying almost all the taxes it should on UK advertising revenue through an offshoring loophole, a specific tax on portals-that-advertise may well be the only way to get the tax that's due in today's global economy.
  • It may be satirical humour but it makes a crucially important point. The reason so many of us stopped trusting Microsoft back in the 90s was we knew that partnering with them only had two exit points: acquisition or the "theft" of our ideas and customers (for me it was the latter). FSJ points out it's deja vue all over again.

Woe to you if you are there when an attack succeeds.
What we need is better security so there are no more attacks. We need to look for the terrorists rather than the bombs. The Israelis do a great job of detecting the terrorists by asking a few questions and watching for reactions, rather than checking shoes. We need to implement what the Israelis do, rather than implementing additional methods for detecting bombs.

Posted by Earl Smith on January 07, 2010 at 10:03 PM PST #

Thanks for the comment, Earl.

> Woe to you if you are there when an attack
> succeeds.

Indeed, it would be dreadful. But I take far greater risks every day. I am far, far more likely to be killed or maimed just as horribly by slipping on the ice in the street today, or by a car swerving on that ice, or by a huge number of other risks that I take in my stride.

If I were able to create a world without those risks, it would be worth doing - but only if the consequences of eliminating them still allowed us all to live a life worth living. The problem here is our fearful minds find it far easier to visualise unfamiliar risks and we weight them out of all proportion to the probability of occurrence or the cost of prevention.

> What we need is better security so there are
> no more attacks.

I agree with "better", to a point, and also with your view that /more/ security doesn't help. But I'm I don't agree with the last part. The attacks are not caused by the lack of security, they are caused by the failed foreign policies of (mainly) the UK and the US.

These create social and political contexts where people develop a sense of hopelessness, injustice and anger that exceeds their value on life. There will continue to be educated, capable people wanting to perform attacks all the time this condition exists.

Since the available "surface" for attack is "all of normal western life", there is no way to apply security to all the parts of life that are at risk of attack. Follow my modest proposal for air travel safety[1] and all that will happen is people will start to attack sports fixtures, as has been happening in Pakistan. As you try to secure more and more aspects of life, the cost - both in financial and social terms - will escalate.

My call is not to skip security. There are a set of rational measures (probably a subset of the Israeli approach, as you say) than can and should be taken at airports to raise the barrier for attacks above the scope of the "casual" assailant. It is to recognise that attacks are bound to happen, and there is no attitude to security that will stop them all, just as there is no attitude towards road safety that will stop millions of people globally being killed in and by cars this year.

Ultimately there is an acceptable level of risk. Our problem is that, blinded by the fear our leaders induce in response to effective terrorism, we continue to assert there is no such thing as an acceptable level of risk. Asserting that there is and educating people to realise it is actually the key to solving the problem alongside a change in foreign policy.

[1] http://www.webmink.net/2009/12/for-your-safety-and-comfort.htm

Posted by Simon Phipps on January 08, 2010 at 01:45 AM PST #

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Thoughts and pointers on digital freedoms and technology markets. With a few photos too.


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