Australian crime expert calls for ‘license to compute’

August 30, 2009

Australian crime expert calls for 'license to compute'New computer users in Austrlia may have to first obtain a license before they join the rest of us on the information super highway, known as the Internet.

Every experienced Internet user at one time or another has gotten frustrated with “newbs”/”n00bs” invading their favorite virtual hangout.  They don’t know “the rules of the road” as it were, and then the experienced users wish there was some sort of license to use the Internet.  Well, for those people, their dream may be coming true if some people get their way.

Dr. Russel Smith, principal criminologist at the Australian Institute of Criminology, recently spoke with iTnews about how he envisions a system where people would have to receive an education in basic computer safety before they would be allowed to access the Internet.  (Okay, so maybe it wouldn’t help totally with the “newb” problem, but you get the idea.)  Dr. Smith’s idea is based off of one currently also circulating in Europe where people would have to learn basic computer security skills before they could connect with the Internet.

Dr. Smith went on to explain his reasoning for these thoughts:

At the moment we have drivers licenses for cars, and cars are very dangerous machines. Computers are also quite dangerous in the way that they can make people vulnerable to fraud.

In the future we might want to think about whether it’s necessary there be some sort of compulsory education of people before they start using computers.

While all of this is an intriguing idea, what about the people who are already on the Internet? Would we have to go back and get licensed? Personally I have been on the Internet since Sept. 1986, and I have never once fallen victim to fraud. Perhaps the better idea would be if a new user subscribes to an Internet service provider, they just get sent a pamphlet about basic precautions they should take, but the idea of a formal licensing system just seems a bit too over the top.

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