Aardvark Daily aardvark (ard'-vark) a controversial animal with a long probing nose used for sniffing out the facts and stimulating thought and discussion.

NZ's leading source of Net-Industry news and commentary since 1995
Headlines | XML feed | Contact | New Sites | Archives | Job Centre | MARKETPLACE | For Sale
Note: This column represents the opinions of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact
Is the Price of Anonymity Too High? 9 September 2002 Edition
Previous Edition | Archives

Please support the sponsor
Sponsor's Message
The top story on today's local tech-news wires relates to the IRD's efforts to move more of their tax reporting and gathering activities online.

Pivotal to the success of such services is the ability to adequately identify users who may wish to log on and file a return, query their status or hand over their 30 pieces of silver.

In fact, much of the entire e-government initiative will rely heavily on the ability to verifiably establish the identity of a Net user -- so how will this be done?

To date, the most common method of proving a person's identity has been to require the use of a logon name and password. Indeed, this simple technique seems to be more than secure enough for online banking systems so why won't it work for the IRD and other government agencies?

Well maybe it will, but maybe it won't.

Perhaps the government will, once again, try to force the users of its services to obtain digital certificates in order to authenticate their identity -- but this is expensive and comes with a raft of other problems so I don't know if that will fly either.

Readers Say
(updated irregularly)
  • Online ID... - Dennis
  • ID... - Tom
  • License to Surf vs... - David
  • On-line ID... - Ben
  • Net Ids... - Brian
  • ID SYSTEM... - Don
  • On-line ID... - Megan
  • Prerequisites... - Michael
  • No... - Hamish

    There are more comments...

  • Have Your Say

    Hey, maybe they could simply require all Kiwis to sign up for a secure Microsoft Passport account and use that (oh dear -- I seem to have fallen over with laughter and I can't get up).

    However, much as I hate to admit it, maybe it's time for Netizens to carry identity cards while online.

    Even though the Net ahs become a lifeline of free speech for numerous oppressed peoples in countries where speaking out against the ruling power can significantly shorten your life expectancy, one still has to has whether the price of this anonymity is now too high.

    Yes, although such an idea cuts right to the heart of the culture of anonymity and uncensored freedom of speech on which the Net has been built, we have to acknowledge that the Net in 2002 is a whole lot different to the way it was even in 1997.

    If, in order to surf the Net, we had to obtain a "license" or "certificate" that would provide immutable evidence of our identity then we could deal a very significant blow to many of the worst aspects of online crime.

    Think about it -- things such as credit-card fraud, virus/trojan launches, kiddie-porn trading, spamming, etc, etc, -- all rely heavily on the fact that it's relatively easy to mask your true identify when online. And, as we all know, if victims or the authorities don't know who you are, it's a lot harder to track you down and put you out of your dastardly business.

    Isn't it somewhat anomalous that we can't drive a car, own a gun or even travel to Australia without proof of who we are -- yet we are allowed to use a technology that can facilitate the undertaking of significant crimes half a world away with almost total anonymity?

    Here's a question for Aardvark's readers:

    Would you accept some form of mandatory online ID system if it meant an end to spam, kiddie-porn, credit-card fraud, cracking, denial of service attacks, viruses and cyberterrorism?

    Or do you believe that these (and other nasties) are a justifiable price to pay in order to preserve your right to online anonymity?

    Have your say.

    Linking Policy
    Want to link to this site? Check out Aardvark's Linking Policy.

    Did you tell someone else about Aardvark today? If not then do it now!

    Latest
    Security Alerts
    File-name flaw threatens PGP users (ZDNet - 06/09/2002)

    Microsoft reveals security hole (NewsFactor - 02/09/2002)

    Microsoft plugs critical Office holes
    (ITWorld - 22/08/2002)

    Security flaw hits Windows, Mac, Linux (NewsFactor - 7/08/2002)

    PGP Outlook plugin has major hole (TheReg - 12/07/2002)

    Latest
    Virus Alerts
    Worm spreads through KaZaA network, again (TheReg - 22/08/2002)

    Apher worm: From Russia (ZDNet - 22/08/2002)

    Kowbot worm targets Kazaa network
    (VNuNet - 01/07/2002)

    Bookmark This Page Now!

     

    MORE NEWS
    NZL Sites
    IDG.Net.nz
    NZ Netguide
    NZ Herald Tech
    PC World NZ
    Scoop
    NZOOM Technology WordWorx

    AUS Sites
    ZDNet
    Fairfax IT
    Australian IT
    AUS Netguide
    NineMSN Tech
    APC Magazine

    USA Sites
    Wired.com
    CNet
    CNNfn Tech
    TechWeb
    Yahoo Tech
    ZDNet Tech
    USA Today Tech
    7am.com SciTech

    UK Sites
    The Register
    BBC SciTech

     

    My Jet Engines
    Check Out Me And My Jet Engines

    The Day's Top News
    Open in New Window = open in new window
    New Zealand

    Open in New Window Authentication looms large in IRD plans
    As the Inland Revenue Department gears up for a five-year plan to move services online, user authentication is a key issu...
    IDG

    Open in New Window Tax cost-cutting doubted by web critics
    The Government says allowing businesses to manage their tax affairs over the internet will cut costs, but not everyone is convinced...
    NZ Herald

    Other

    Open in New Window File-name flaw threatens PGP users
    Security-consulting firm Foundstone believes that e-mail messages encrypted with the Pretty Good Privacy program can be used as digital bullets to attack and take control of a victim's computer...
    ZDNet

    Open in New Window Drive-by spam hits wireless LANs
    The proliferation of insecure corporate wireless networks is fueling the growth of drive-by spamming, a security expert warned on Thursday...
    CNet

    Open in New Window Terror laws 'eat away at privacy'
    The UK is one of the worse places in the world for privacy with the internet playing a huge part in the erosion of rights, a report has found...
    BBC

    Open in New Window A tale of two Klezes
    Two variants of the mass-mailing Klez virus are rocketing toward completely different fates as of Friday...
    CNet

    Open in New Window No, No, No to Nokia's Videophone
    Nokia's new videophone may look good and feel good, but it isn't doing much for industry analysts, who predict the product will be a complete flop...
    Wired

    Australia

    Open in New Window Telstra coughs up for digital cable
    TELSTRA will spend up to $200 million digitising its cable network as part of a package of promises designed to seal the controversial Foxtel-Optus pay-TV content merger...
    Australian IT

    Open in New Window Switched on TV
    Whether we're on the Internet or watching the television, staring mindlessly at the screen is out and interactivity is in...
    The Age

    Other

    Open in New Window China blocks second search website
    China has blocked a second internet search engine, less than a week after banning the hugely popular Google website...
    bbc

    Open in New Window MS flips on new 'global' Windows remote-root vuln
    A few days ago the rumours started: every currently-supported version of Windows -- that's -98 to -XP and everything in between -- can be rooted by a novel means which MS regarded as a mystery...
    The Register

    Open in New Window Spam Versus Technology: The Battle Rages On
    Unsolicited e-mail, called spam, has permeated in-boxes so thoroughly that efforts to stop the flow have become extreme...
    NewsFactor

    Open in New Window Google's About-face
    Google, arguably the most popular search engine on the Internet has done an about face, mainly as a method of defeating the censors who control all Net access in China. Here's a real Google "mirror site"...
    elgoog

    Open in New Window PlayStation 3: Thinking outside the box
    While Sony basks in the success of its PlayStation 2 in the $30 billion-plus-a-year video game market, expectations are rising that its successor will be out by 2005, in an entirely different form...
    CNet


    Looking For More News or Information?

    Google
    Search WWW Search Aardvark

    Privacy Policy | Copyright © 2002, Bruce Simpson, republication rights available on request

    jet engine page