19 Jul 2006

fighting piracy with children in hong kong

according to new york times (via slashdot), hong kong government is enlisting 200,000 youths to scour the internet for piracy and reporting them to the customs office.

Local news reports are unfair in suggesting that the government is recruiting young people to spy on others, Mr. Tam added. “We are not trying to manipulate youths and get them into the spy profession. What we are just trying to do is arouse a civic conscience to report crimes to the authorities.”

i can't think of a worse idea than that. there are so many things that can go wrong, the slashdot comments already hint at a few:

"it. I would be pretty concerned if the government asked my son to explore dark alleys at 3am, just to figure out if drug deals are going on in that part of town."

"Sending oodles of kids out looking for music-sharing sites is kind of like sending angry, unattractive, middle-aged cops to "stop" prostitution"

"So now we are turning out 200k kids in to an enviroment ripe for molestation. And porn, lest we forget."

and of course an obligitory peter pan humour:

"So, basically, what we have here is children fighting pirates on an island? Where have I heard that before?"

the thing is, instead of educating them that stealing is bad, you're telling them to actively go look for people doing bad stuff. how many kids will you actually teach and say, hey, i didn't know it was THIS EASY to find all this pirated songs, movies and software. i'm going to quit the boy scouts and do this all day.

secondly, so what if the kids report every single reference to pirated software or media? are the customs people going to act on this or are they just gonna sit back and get DoS'ed by these kids. they're just going to report every search term under the sun which you can use on the baidu chinese search engine.

You can reply to me about this on Twitter: