Uri asks why – despite the technological advancements of recent years – we still remain such fools for love.Palestinian teenagers are showing their anger at the current political deadlock by taking to the streets with rocks and petrol bombs. Tragically dozens have been killed.
Israel has declared cyber warfare illegal, making it unlawful for hackers to break into Arab sites and festoon them with Jewish symbols. The law appears ridiculous. Parents should be delighted when their youngsters respond, not by rioting but by using their computer expertise to deface web pages. But in a region desperate for peace, any aggression – even one in parallel, virtual world – can have terrifying repercussions. When the world’s diplomats are struggling for solutions, teens with a talent for hacking are not welcome.
“We need to explain to the Israeli public that we are not a country of piracy and that children should not be declaring war,” said Michael Eitan, head of the Government’s Internet Committee. “We are not talking here about a game but rather about taking risks with the national and international infrastructure.”
He is not exaggerating. Israel has the most computer literate population on the planet, with the highest proportion of PCs to pupils. The Jerusalem Report quoted a hacker identified only as SfromtheSOUTH, who boasted : “There’s no internet service provider in the Arab world that couldn’t be knocked out in 15 minutes. In an internet war, the sky would be the limit.”
He added with relish : “Maybe you can all it the nerd’s revenge. The Arabs can blow up buses but nerds can blow up computers.”
Much of the nerd’s revenge is puerile – a web gateway based in Jordan was garnished with a picture of Yasser Arafat as a pig, in a situation that would even make a pig blush.
The response of Arab net-users was ferocious. Chain-letter emails went out to sympathisers in Europe and the US, demanding retaliation and calling for an electronic jihad or Holy War.
One claimed : “The more money the Israelis lose in fixing and strengthening their systems means less money to buy bullets and rockets for use against our children…maybe you can’t hold a gun and fight, but you can contribute to the struggle.”
The idea that a PC in the bedroom becomes a weapon of war is a chilling one. The net is our best hope of improving education globally – to abuse it for warfare is a crime worse than burning books.
Michael Eitan believes : ” The solution to the problem is that there will be an international pact that demands ther prosecution of anyone wreaking havoc on the net.” I call on the British Government to seize that lead. The nerd’s revenge threatens us all.
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