Sunday, April 02, 2006

Boston Legal

I'm just starting to enjoy Boston Legal. It's not at the must see point yet, but if I notice it whist channel hopping I'll watch it:

Last night I ended up watching the repeated showing of the episode "Too Much Information" the basic plot being that a woman escaping from an abusive relationship goes to a refuge but because her HMO makes information available on the internet, it was possible for the husband to track her down to her regular medical appointment, lay in wait and murder her. The HMO's defense was that they were using industry standards of internet security. This led Alan Shore (played by James Spader) to make a closing speech that is one of the best non-technical arguments I've heard for the need to tighten internet security. I've transcribed the entire speech below.

"When I was 11 years old there came a time when the temptation to explore the more secretive recesses of my older sister's life became more than I could resist. I started by poking around in her room. I ended by reading her diary. In my defense she kept it right out in the open - under her mattress and the little metal clasp on it was simply no match for the paperclip and the screwdriver. I was eventually caught, prompting my sister to have a lock installed on her door. The only consequence of the invasion of my sister's privacy was the temporary loss of her confidence and trust. The invasion of Jackie Hayden's privacy lead to her being stabbed and left to bleed to death in the street. Privacy, and the safety and security that that word has always implied, has, with time and technology, become an illusion. The National Security Agency has access to all our email the world over with it's Echelon system. Virtually every website you visit installs a delicious cookie onto your computer which is in fact a spy to track your every move. There are predators out in cyberspace collecting data on your children while they innocently type away in chat rooms, and that little waiver you signed in the doctor's office most likely allows physicians to share your information on the internet with insurance companies, the government, your employer and the courts. Make no mistake access to your information is easy. All you need is a person's five digit zip code, gender and date of birth to uniquely identify 87% of the US population. That is how vulnerable we are. How vulnerable you are. Well-Benefits says they could not have possibly foreseen the actions of an abusive spouse intent on causing his wife harm. Let me tell you what Jackie Hayden could not foresee. That after years of cruel and violent debasement at the hands of her husband, after she finally found her way out of the shadows she didn't foresee that the people she most trusted with her health and well being would lead the darkness right back to her door - and now she's dead. Well-Benefits made it easy for Ned Hayden to find his wife. As easy as looking under a mattress."


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