12 September 2005

Cawfee Tawk

Ok, blogger boys and girls, here's my monday morning thoughts: who is responsible for your personal security?

Now, I'm aware that this is only one thought. And this is probably a good time to mention that I am starting this post with every intention of not going political with it, though we all know how these things can spiral out of control. But lots of things can come from this consideration.

I think many people who participate in discussions about this sort of thing would probably lean toward the belief that people should be responsible for their own security -- though American society as a whole exists in a state which decidedly denies acceptance of consequences and such. You can sue anyone for anything, deserved or not, and until I make several million dollars in a case like that, I'm wholeheartedly against it. (Ahem. Joke.) But I guess the question is whether or not a decision like that is as clear-cut as the first six words of this paragraph could lead someone to believe.

Let's take one example hot in the news: Identity theft.

It's a good idea nowadays to monitor your banking closely on line, check your credit statement often during the year, and avoid giving out information over channels that may be less than secure. You could argue that it is your personal responsibility to do these things. But consider the following situations:

  • I make a payment for a purchase I can only get over a line that's not guaranteed secure. (or something) My savings gets cleaned out. Who is at fault?

  • Same situation, but this time I'm an elderly person who isn't comfortable using computers, and thus I don't monitor my account activity as closely as I might otherwise. Who is at fault?

  • Ok, same as number two, no factor in that I live in a poor neighborhood with minimal earnings. Even though I have no debts (good credit) I can't afford a computer/internet, or I work too many hours to make accessing what is available at the public library really possible. Maybe I only watch the HSN. Am I at fault then if my identity is stolen, or could more have been done to prevent it?

  • I've set up home networking, and the company's failure to provide instruction on securing the network results in information fraud. Am I responsible for the result? What if they set it up incorrectly? What if they set it up correctly and the security is compromised by a hacker or virus?
    If it's not your fault, who pays? If it is, who pays?

    Well, this is a little harder then I thought, but feel free to give your own comments. On to situation number two: Your safety.

    The same line of thought should be accountable for your own safety, whether it means training, or making common sense decisions (dark alley... well-lit street... dark alley.... well-lit street...) But again, the more I think about it, the more I see that could be discussed.

  • I'm walking out to my car at night and I get mugged. Could I have prevented this?

  • I've been studying the Steven Segall school of martial arts for the last ten years, and feel confident in many situations. I can break concrete walls with my head. I get mugged, and get the crap kicked out of me. Am I at fault? Is my teacher? (Maybe he could have taught running better...)

  • I walk to my car at night, and normally carry something for protection, but my workplace has just instituted a ban on weapons of that type. Without my defense, am I an easier prey? Should the workplace be then held accountable for providing better security?

  • Consider the same situation as above, but now I am in an airplane, unable to carry my knife or mace or lighterfluid, whatever it is they've confiscated at security. If no federal air marshall is on board, and something happens, is the airline responsible for compensation for my injury? The FAA? The government?

  • Maybe these are wierd questions to ask, but more and more I look at the news and shake my head at what's going on. I read a news article last week about a family suing the city and the police department for the death of two children struck by a suspect fleeing in a chase that had been called off. I see the ads for malpractice and ambulance-chasing lawyers, some of which do good and just work, but I can't believe all alleged malpractice cases are legitimately such. I worked as a lifeguard for years, but when I moved to another workplaces, I had to consider if I would be willing to respond to a rescue situation outside the environment in which I was trained. What if someone sued me for helping? What if someone tried to sue me for not? But even more importantly, how could I deal with the consequences of not helping?

    Well, if you made it to the end of this post, leave a comment and let me know what you think. I'm curious.

    1 comment:

    Sideshow said...

    Your post raises several interesting questions, of which I am sure, there are many different views. Normally I try to keep my commenting to the lighter, more humorous subjects, but in this case I felt I should toss my two cents in. Here is my comment...there is only one L in marshal, unless you are speaking of a persons name (such as Marshall Mathers).

    What do you expect for two cents?