Week Seven

Law & Media

I had not been familiar with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) prior to this module.  I really enjoyed Cory Doctorow’s video, and found much of what he brought up to be disappointing.  I say disappointing because, after Snowden, not much surprises me in tech anymore.  In his talk, I found it most concerning that people are not legally allowed to find out the code that is running in the devices that they believe they own.  I understand in some cases it is brands just trying to protect and preserve their brand, but what about the safety of people.  We seem to be in a time where the law could interfere with human safety.  These codes and encryptions are protected by the law, and the justice system will protect them.

I think that I am most concerned with the level of unknown that we are exposed to.  Cory shares a story of a man who has seen the code for the insulin pump.  After seeing the code, he has made the decision not to wear the pump.  That may not seem like a big deal but, as mentioned in the video, the pump could improve a person’s lifespan by 5-10 years.  It was mentioned that the device could be broken into and inject a person with enough insulin to kill them.

Cory mentions something interesting about the vulnerabilities being abandoned in a way.  The vulnerabilities cannot be discussed and therefore never get patched.  If I am following this right, the code could be improved if vulnerabilities were patched.  An improvement of this sort could reduce the potential of human harm, but it can’t be done with these protections in place.

Over the summer, I worked for a tech center that educated us on ways to secure and protect information that we were dealing with.  It seems that it is a common practice now for companies to use encrypted messaging apps, require updates, and two factor logins.  That experience helped me realize how unsafe I had been in my online practices, and how I can improve my protection methods.

I have connected that experience to this module because, while I have a password on my computer, I don’t have the legal option to “unlock” or jailbreak the computer.  Those options are only available for phones.  So even though I believe I own everything on my computer because I have a password; I likely don’t own or know everything about my computer.  I think that this is similar to the data on social sites of which I am very active on.  I have password protection on my accounts and on some I set my privacy settings to the most restrictions allowed, but we can’t always be sure what is being collected.  I think we are given a good idea when we learn about target marketing ads, but there will always feel like there is an element of unknown.

Moving forward, I will always be careful about what I share on my devices and platforms.  I think that this module has encouraged me to be wary of new tech and always seek more information about the development and security of the tech.