Aus: the folly of absolutes
Two stories from Australia serve as a timely reminder about the folly of thinking in absolutes.
The first one is the Australian Government’s efforts around porn filters. They proudly announced the launch of free porn filters for families at the considerable cost of (AU) $84 million. Imagine the government’s embarrassment when a 16 year old schoolboy broke the filters in half an hour and an updated version in 40 minutes.
The government was forced to declare that, “… the government has always maintained, no filter is foolproof.” Right, now that’s backing away from absolutes.
The second story comes from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Investigations showed that 27 staff had gained unauthorised access to personal tax records in 2006. Now, a dozen people have been sacked or resigned after being caught doing the same thing.
An ATO spokeswoman said, “While no level of unauthorised access is acceptable, in an organisation of about 22,000 people it is inevitable that a very small number of people will be tempted to do the wrong thing.”
“Inevitable” is a way of saying that government cannot absolutely make sure that it will keep taxpayer information that it is legally required to be kept confidential safe from unauthorised employees.
It’s realistic not to set up expectations of absolutes.
On another note, this leads to a re-emphasising of a security truism: the biggest threat to privacy and protecting personal information comes from the inside while the popular notion about security is keeping the bad guys out.