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EDITORIAL: Ever vigilant let’s be!

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Ever vigilant let’s be!

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When John Donne wrote almost 400 years ago that no man is an island, he could not have envisaged the influence of something so powerful as the Internet. Indeed, the past two decades have proved the truth and might of his statement, for almost anything happening anywhere on the planet is instantly visible almost everywhere else. We are all affected by it.
YouTube and other postings on the Internet, together with the ubiquitous satellite, bring right to us matters we would not otherwise have known of; the death of distance means we now see events as they unfold, and thus we become veritable eyewitnesses to history in the making.
And as we become informed about what happens elsewhere, we are just as well made aware of the dangers of cultural penetration, where native customs are sometimes overtaken by foreign practice.
Equally we become aware of the dangers in the misuse of cyberspace by those who take advantage of the new technology for criminal purposes or for the advancement of other activities inimical to the interests of the state. We are not surprised, therefore, that the police have had to investigate reports under the Computers Misuse Act, as was revealed by Assistant Commissioner Erwin Boyce at a Cyber Security Forum Initiative meeting last week at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, and that 35 cybercrime cases attracted their attention over the past four years.
That none of these cases has yet been brought to conclusion is discomforting, to say the least. Still, we anxiously await the outcome of police investigations, especially when we consider that there is an allegation of hacking into the website of a Government department.
The danger of such hacking ought to be obvious to anyone with a modicum of common sense, and one can hope that a word to the wise from the Royal Barbados Police Force would be enough to deter those minded to be involved in such senseless, criminal behaviour.
Not so long ago, a British youngster was alleged to have hacked his way into some of the major computer systems of the United States government and proceedings were commenced for his extradition out of England to the United States, notwithstanding that he is a Britisher who had never set foot in America. Distance is now no deterrent to the kind of mischief idle hands can get up to.
Equally distressing must be the misuse of the technology by those who feel it important to be the first to transmit gory pictures of people injured in motor vehicle accidents, or to maliciously post in cyberspace the images of those who may have been indiscreet enough to store personal photographs in their computers or cellphones.
In a word, the computer has been a most useful invention; but it is loaded with dangers.
We welcome Assistant Commissioner Boyce’s word that the police are looking to establish a special cybercrime lab at the Regional Police Training School and that they will also be nudging the Government to update its policies on network security.
At a time when we are pushing the Barbadian cultural industries and technology, and how their fusion may enhance our economic well-being, we have to be deeply conscious of the malicious misuse that may arise. The powers that be need to be ever so vigilant!