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The Little Brother is here

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Did you read Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother" ? Do you have kids in school age?

Continue after the jump, then.

[ "One Nation Under CCTV", picture by Herschell Hershey ]

A few weeks ago I was reading as usual Schneier and I got into this story: a school in the US provides laptops to the kids and make the use of those laptops compulsory to attend classes. They actually forgot to tell kids and their parents they installed hidden software on the laptop, permitting the IT staff to spy on kids' activity and to remotely and sneakly turn on their camera.

Basically, the school was spying on kids and taking pictures of them without notice.

Then, the day after, Cory writes on BoingBoing about this documentary where (4:37) this IT guy of a school boasts about the tracking software he sneakly installed on the kids' laptops. Thanks to it he can view their desktop and take pictures from the webcam, without any notice.

What can we say about that? Did we just get to the point that parents should carefully check any electronic devices their kids are using? And if they should, why shouldn't we all do the same with our devices? Laptops, phone, smartphones, gps, ...

Is there any specific reason why we should trust a company (like Google for gmail or Apple with the iphone) more than a regular IT guy working for a middle school?

I just think that all these stories should bring all of us to a mandatory and broad use of open source software wherever absolute trust is required. And our kids' laptops are definitely included here.

Maybe open source software is not the only solution, but the road we're paving now it's kinda scary. Some time ago I posted on facebook this link where the author (a Google engineer) writes:

The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future
omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. 
It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps
serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger.
I hate it.
I hate it even though the iPhone hardware and software are great, because freedom’s not just another word for anything, nor is it an optional ingredient.

The big thing about the Web isn’t the technology, it’s that it’s the first-ever platform without a vendor (credit for first pointing this out goes to Dave Winer).

At that time (March 15.) the iPad wasn't yet on the shelves, astonishing us with its coolness factor and make us forget what it's trying to turn us in: consumers, not users.

Happy kids with shiny objects in their hands, not used to a PC-lookalike which tells us "No, you can't do it. You can't read the word 'sperm' on my monitor". Wait! This is MY monitor not yours! (Remember you're speaking to an iPad). 

Happy kids that every time they (the devices) tell us "you can't do it; I'll not allow it" bounce their heads against the walls of the sterile Disney-fied garden, apparently happy for how the device shines on an aperitivo table.

And wait, I'm not snob: I don't have already an iPhone more because of stupid and logistic reasons than ethical.
Last summer I bought in Chicago a Macbook Pro, leaving my old Acer with Ubuntu taking the dust. I left the freedom of open source software to try something new that apparently shines like hell under the light. 
More, I posted the link above about the iPhone on fb beginning with a "It's easy to fall into temptation but...".

It's just that I see so few people criticize Apple's behaviour, not even asking themselves about what they (we) are giving up for the coolest device available. And, maybe even more scaring, what kind of path we're taking; a path that, without any form of criticism by users, will be day after day more dark and steep for everything concerns freedom.

I don't know, everything just seems soooo wrong to me.

Written by orangeek

Monday 08 March 2010 at 12:33 pm

Posted in pop

Used tags: , , , ,

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