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91degrees's Journal: Why computers need driving licences

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I was recently sent an email by a friend about stupid computer users. One of these people had broken his CD-ROM drive trying to use it as a cup holder. One of them had tried to use the mouse (The plastic device that you use to move the pointer around the screen) as a foot pedal.

My friend seemed to find this funny. I found it disturbing. We have people spending several thousand dollars on a piece of sophisticated equipment, that they have no idea how to use. It's not just this though. The shear volume of unmitigated dross on the Interent is screaming for us to regulate it, if only to make it possible to find something useful.

I think people should have to take a driving test for their computers.

This may seem like a strange suggestion, but this is simply because you aren't used to the idea. When the driving licence was first proposed for cars, people were horrified at the prospect. Now, if you even consider suggesting the abolision of the driving test, people with react with equal or greater horror.

A computer can after all be every bit as dangerous as a car. Used incorrectly, it can be used to attack commercial and government websites that are essential to the running of the free nations of the world. Even those who don't have any illegal intentions could unwillingly be allowing criminals to hack into their machines, and the evil hackers could use them as a springboard to get into other computers, making the owner of the computer an unwitting acomplace to a criminal act.

It is illegal to export powerful computers to over 100 countries. Yet these same countries do have low power computers. These can be used to hack into more powerful computers, that can be used to hack into the powerful computers that we have in the democratic world, and these can be used to hack into the extremely powerful servers that run our nation. People need to be taught to prevent this sort of attack from happening. We should not allow people to put these at risk simply because they don't know how to secure their computers.

We should expand this into restrictions of the types of computers that should be used on the internet. Now, many people here believe that Microsoft Windows should be the only operating system that people shuld use, but I feel that as long as they could ensure basic security was implemented, other operating systems should also be considered. Obviosuly we should make sure that these are rigourously tested, and at a cost to the manufdacturers. We insist on basic crash tests for cars after all. Once again, I'm sinmply suggesting that we apply the same rigourous standards to computers

This would have several benefits.

Old operating systyems such as the MS-DOS found on the early pre-Pentium machines can be decertified after they reach a certain age. This will keep the slower machines off the net, speeding up the internet for the rest of us.

After all, surely people should not be entitled to modify their computers in dangerous ways. Some people have REMOVED the Windows operating system that came with their PC, and replaced it with a free operating system in order to avoid having to pay for their software. I'm surpirised that this is still allowed. Nobody allows us to put spikes on the front of our cars, or replace the wheels with sawblades. Why should we be allowed to do the same to our computers?

Finally it will reduce the cost of our computers. Part of the cost is the cost of technical support. If they didn't have to train qualified people to answer so many questions, the cost of Windows would plummet.

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Why computers need driving licences

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