Security as a Trade-Off

The Economist has an excellent editorial on security trade-offs. You need to subscribe to read the whole thing, but here’s my favorite paragraph:

The second point is that all technologies have both good and bad uses. There is currently a debate about whether it is safe to install mobile antennas in underground stations, for example, for fear that
terrorists will use mobile phones to detonate bombs. Last year’s bombs in Madrid were detonated by mobile phones, but it was the phones’ internal alarm-clock function, not a call, that was used as the trigger mechanism. Nobody is suggesting that alarm clocks be outlawed, however; nor does anyone suggest banning telephones, even though kidnappers can use them to make ransom demands. Rather than demonising new technologies, their legitimate uses by good people must always be weighed against their illegitimate uses by bad ones. New technologies are inevitable, but by learning the lessons of history, needless scares need not be.

Posted on April 11, 2005 at 1:05 PM11 Comments


Steve April 11, 2005 3:10 PM

Did they make mention of the plan to turn off GPS in the event of a terrorist attack as an example of benefit/terrorist risk analysis?


me_and April 11, 2005 3:38 PM

The best example I ever heard (on the subject of a desktop monitoring program) was “People can hang themselves with rope, but we don’t stop selling it.”

C. Dimino April 11, 2005 5:14 PM

The prevention of technological progress because of fear is the prevention of economic and social advancement on a global scale, which is the goal of the terrorists. Security should be tightened, but not at the expense of new tech.

Clive Robinson April 12, 2005 6:04 AM

There are three wonderfull thinks about mankind,

1, We are almost infinatly inventive in ways that most of us can not imagine.

2, Our capacity for mischief knows no bounds.

3, The only people who are 100% right 100% of the time are those with 20-20 hindsight.

As for the rest of us well the world ends up an interesting place 😉

x April 12, 2005 2:06 PM

What a bore. You guys bend over backwards trying to sound witty, but you really just waste my time. Make a point or save the wear and tear on your keyboard and my eyes.

beth April 3, 2012 2:22 AM

terrorists should not deter the countries progress technologically.whether advance in technology is there or not terrorists will always be on the look-out to cause harm.

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