Wednesday, March 23, 2011

TIME, why did you spike another story?

I guess Time, Inc. has a problem exposing stupid cyber criminals, given that they appeared to have pulled another Techland (a Time subsidiary) story. My email today from Techland reads as follows:
Robbed Victim Posts Video of Laptop Thief Dancing Online Erica Ho | March 22, 2011 at 4:00 pm | 
Is this a victory dance? After being identified as a thief, and having this embarrassing video posted online, I think not. Fortunately, Mark Bao, an 18-year-old student at Bentley University in Massachusetts, knows his way around a computer. When his MacBook Air was stolen, he discovered he could still access several his hard drive and [...]
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Of course, if you click to "Read more of this post" you get the usual "Error 404 - Not Found" message (try clicking on the hot-links above and you'll see). But not to worry. The horse is out of the digital barn. Again. Google—Mark Bao dancing thief—and you get the story anyway, thanks to Security News. There, you can see the YouTube video of a stupid criminal and see the rest of the story.

So Time, that's the second story you've spiked in a week. What gives? I can understand the business reason for killing the story giving jihadists the idea for causing massive disruption by taking over large numbers of new automobiles with an MP3 virus. Automobile advertisers could easily turn your fragile bottom line substantially red. But a stupid computer thief? I'd kind of like to know your rationale.

In a reputation-based economy, truth would seem to be an excellent way to keep people on the high road. My guess is that you determined turning a petty thief into a pariah was a disproportionate response, with a disproportionate effect on his entire life. That, unfortunately, is my own justification for legalizing cyber privateering: the likelihood of a disproportionate response to cyber crime would be a major factor in discouraging criminal activity.

Which means that Time, Inc. will probably editorialize against legalizing cyber privateers, eh? You're probably not alone.


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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?