Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Internet Lie #12

Connectivity Is Good

We are told that connectivity is good and more of it (more hours, more speed, more people connected) is better. And if connectivity is good, there is little downside to being connected. This is what a lot of people (purveyors of the cloud, pushers of programs, and greedy dot com grabbers) would like us to believe.

Before widespread connectivity, the greatest danger to our computers was its use by other people. Their intent may have been benign, but they could be careless or ignorant. If we weren’t careful, their access could be responsible for damage to our data and our programs.

Other people are still the problem, but now their access is through the Internet. Connectivity itself is the greatest danger to our computers. Connectivity allows unwanted and unwarranted access for malefactors to corrupt our data, invade our privacy, and expand the growth industry that is identity theft.

We are being told (and sold) that connectivity is an open door to a world of valuable information. That’s one side of the story. The other side is that same connectivity is an open door to our computers, an open door for many millions of people we want no contact with whatsoever. Under any circumstances. While connectivity permits great utility it also, in typical amoral technological fashion, permits great harm.

Let’s step back and adopt a metaphor: electricity. We want its availability all the time. In full strength, without significant variations. We want that availability so we can use it when and how we choose. How is the Internet any different? We want the connection available so that when we decide to use it we can. Like electricity, we want to decide what to plug in and when to flip the switch.

Instead, connection to the Internet is demanded by every piece of software on our computers—even those we didn’t know were there. This software thinks it has a right to use our connection to the Internet for its purposes and at its convenience. By keeping this door open all the time, even software we trust makes it easier for anyone to enter through that open door.

Eventually, our computers will be connected all the time, even when we’re not using them. The connection will be used for purposes without our permission or even our knowledge. Since they want to be connected all the time, at some point they won’t even let us pull the plug!


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