Space Ramblings

Secrets and Laptops

The exploding revelations in the Pennsylvania high school webcam case are an important reminder of the risks of a system in which users don’t own their own technology that they use. It’s not just about the bizarre incident itself, in which a High School was supposedly using a webcam to identify laptop thefts, a completely useless measure since a webcam snapshot would not provide a location, unlike say WiFi, but it’s about the entire culture of companies attempting to treat their customers as leasing technology, rather than owning it. Consider the way Apple maintains tight control over its products. Or the way software companies increasingly act as if customers are renting a digital product, rather than buying one. The Penn case would have never happened if the end user had been in control of the technology and the case does show the dangers of abuse when that is not the case.

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