Krista's Coding Corner

29.07.2012

Offtopic: should information be shared?

You probably know the saying from (Hollywood film) press: public has a right to know. It is an interesting saying, which is partially true. In my opinion.

Truth and knowledge aren’t a good things always. We all know about the atomic bombs US dropped to Japan causing so enormous destruction that words cannot describe it. Atomic bombs are awful devices but the technology can be used for many not-destructive-ways also, like in space travel.

In one tabloid was an article about Libya’s rebels whose behaviour in the Internet was spied and the information was used against the rebels. I won’t quote any names or that sort of matter as I don’t understand this well enough even though the situation in Libya has calmed down.

Long story short: this person used one famous free email provider and thought that he was safe and nobody would know, and the receivers would also be safe. Then he noticed that someone had cracked into the email. After that he started to delete emails send after the sending.

Anyone who is more familiar with these sorts of things will know that the person really wasn’t safe with just deleting emails. But the person didn’t know this.

How awful, we might think, and then hope someone had told the person that you can encrypt your emails and that there are many other ways then using some possibly compromised email service provider. This reaction is because we like the person, he was with the good guys.

But let’s put this other way around: the person was a horrible terrorist and he was caught because he was ignorant enough. Maybe then we would be relieved “luckily he didn’t know” or maybe we would feel powered because our good guys are just better than they are.

If encryption etc. would be taught everywhere in the world, some good rebels would be safe. But so would the bad guys.

Now we have a dilemma: to tell everybody or to hide the information, so it isn’t used wrongly? Unfortunately the answer seems always to be “hide information, it is dangerous”. We prefer having the option that maybe some terrorist will fail because they may not have the information needed. And we forget that in the same time we will risk many other things. Not only some rebels and dissidents but it also puts in risk for example the security of our medical systems or we may lose identities in Internet because it is hard to say who is actually who and who is just pretending. A coin always has two sides and we often forget this other side.

In my opinion organized bad people will always find away but regular people who are more likely to be somewhat good guys won’t. There will be many other ways to catch criminals but hardly any other means to protect common citizens.

Sometimes it is unforgivable to give people information too easily and without requisite background information. Some facts can be interpreted so wrongly if one doesn’t understand the matter as a whole. That’s why I won’t write about all interesting things I’d like: I have a responsibility to make sure the information will be forwarded correctly and only to those people who “deserve” it by truly understanding it’s meaning –and I’m unsure if I can do that. Causing unnecessary panic is not appropriate.

I think truth makes life less complicated – in a right way. And shared information is something we just have to deal with. It has many downsides but they can be handled because they are expected, and then again: it has so many advantages <3. But we still shouldn’t blindly tell just everything we know to everybody.

PS. Truth/knowledge hardly can be bad, but it may still hurt. It is more the way it is used. IMHO.

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