It is not often that a post on the ICO website really strikes a chord with me but for the 1st time there is one. The article centers around teaching children about their rights when it pertains to information. Too often this is missed and then when you combine this with “Yellow Jacket Syndrome” and you have a heady mix of children ( who will become adults) who don’t know ( or care about) their rights, and a society where we are told to comply with authority no matter what. I blogged about this area ( teaching data rights) in a post from early August so I would like to think that the ICO is reading my blog and reacting.
Yellow Jacket Syndrome
The BBC article hits the nail on the head on this, it seems that in the UK both wearers of yellow high viz jackets and “wearees”that is people spoken to by wears of this apparel believe that they condone some magic level of authority. I personally have been approached by security guards on public property and by virtue of their yellow jacket they believe that they have god like powers. For example I was in London in 2005 and decided as I was walking past the Millennium Wheel to take a photo.
Now this seems like a fairly standard picture just taken at an interesting angle. However the on site security didn’t think so and whilst there was no chance of an altercation they were spoiling for an incident. The mere fact that they were wearing bright yellow jackets stating “security” seemed to be all the authority they needed to tell me to stop taking photo’s
However I digress, as per the BBC article, it is clear that in the UK we have been programmed to accept authority figures and to do what ever they tell us to do no matter how sensible. How does this link to infosec ? well I loose count of the times that I have seen website and officials that ask for inappropriate data. From websites that ask for date of birth to process a warranty claim, to independent financial advisers who ask for your CVV number ( and write it down) we are programmed to give what ever the computer / authority foigure asks for.
Think of the Children
What the above will lead to will be a situation where by there is very little privacy left, at least in the developed world. Combine this with children’s almost insatiable desire to share details on myspace / the social network du jour and there is a dangerous combination. What the ICO is proposing is to educate children as to their rights online, to ensure that they can become good digital citizens. This is not just limited to ensuring that they understand the importance of their data but could also be extended to teaching them how to be good digital citizens.
Lets look at that last point in more detail, being a good digital citizen. There was a time when letter writing was taught in schools, how to lay out the letter and how to make yourself understood. Perhaps now this could extend to how to correctly punctuate tweets and texts… but on a more serious note, the classes really do need to be there to teach children right from wrong on line. There is often the perception that as the Internet is largely unpoliced that it doesn’t matter what you do, you will never be caught. Nothing could be further from the truth, as we saw in the recent riots a simple post online could net you 4 years in gaol. Users of the LoIC tool from Anonymous are swiftly realising that the police will arrest them for participating in a DDoS attack. There needs to be a section in the curriculum that explains that things done in the virtual world can have real world consequences.
Over all the ICO is going in the right direction on this topic, but needs support. Why not get onto twitter, security forums and add your voice ?